I recently read a short article that my uncle shared on Facebook.
My uncle is really cool. He’s a professional jazz singer and musician. He lived with us for a while when I was a little girl and I remember how he’d take his guitar, open the Bible and start singing verses. He’d often write worship songs like that, songs I still sing today.
The article was written by another singer and musician that I listened to as a child. Scott Wesley Brown. His songs were on the radio, and somehow I always remembered him. Maybe because he seemed to have strong character: like a person who wouldn’t compromise. Stable and strong.
In this article he wrote, he describes how he’s not “cool”, and maybe never really was. He was apart of the Christian music industry at a time when it was gaining a strong base, during the 80’s. He always wanted to be one of the leading artists, but never really attained that, because he wasn’t cool enough. In fact, one church told him that they wanted to invite him but he wasn’t “hot” enough.
All those Christian music charts define how cool a singer is, and when you’re not cool enough then you’re gone to make room for someone who is. Imagine what that does to you! How that impacts the way you see yourself, when all you want to do is earn a living from something you truly love and gives you satisfaction, but you realize you can’t when someone whom you’ve neither seen nor met tells you, “I’m sorry, but you’re not cool enough.”
The question is: does God call us to be cool? What is the standard for cool? How we will know when we’ve become a cool person?
But the better question is: What defines us? In what or whom is our identity?
Last week in the Good Morning Girls’ study we saw that Jesus had a lot to say about this, but His disciples didn’t get it, because in chapter 10 we see that James and John sought to be more cool than the rest: “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”
They thought that their position gave them identity. “If we can become Jesus’ favorite disciples, then we’ve really arrived! And for all eternity!” But Jesus didn’t play the game, “Which Disciple is the Best”, because the Kingdom of God isn’t built on levels of importance.
Jesus tried to teach them a completely new world view when He called the pharisees, who were really very religious and held strictly to the law, corrupt. In fact, in Mark 8:15 He said that they were no better than Herod! The pharisees loved to show their dedication, and wanted people to hold them up as an example. But in the 8th chapter Jesus said something very radical. he said that if you want to be His disciple you must be ready to lay down your life, to deny yourself, to stop looking out for yourself.
In the end, Jesus Himself, wasn’t really an example of success. He was born in a cave, grew up in the ghetto, and wasn’t even very good looking. The Bible says that there was no reason to really look at Him. He wouldn’t have been invited to some churches because He wasn’t “hot” either. In the end, he was executed like a criminal.
How does Jesus define success? How does He define achievement? How does He define a cool person?
Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Perhaps we think that we could never live like that. Because what would people think of us? What would people think if we were a servant? Maybe they’d think we’ve failed.
But in this Jesus was also saying, “Your worth and value are not defined by what you do, by your position, by your career, by your education, by your salary…
rather Jesus Himself defines your worth and identity!
He saved you
He redeemed you
You belong to Him
And that is your entire worth. And that is your entire identity.
You can stop chasing success now. You can free yourself from the pressure to be the best. You can stop regretting that you never finished school.
Because your success does not define you.
You can stop grieving that your father rejected you. You can stop worrying that you’re girlfriend will abandon you.
Because their acceptance of you is not your identity
You can stop running after things: a new car, a new home, new furniture, a new iPhone, new fashionable clothes
Because your worth is not in things that are so short-lived
And when we finally, once and for all, understand this, then we are free, we have succeeded. Then we have become cool!