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Revenge of the Nerds (or “Why are we Christians such dorks?”)

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

I know. I know. Speak for yourself. But if I didn’t ask the question I’d be, well, the biggest dork of all.

Let me explain what I mean by my contention of the supreme dorkiness of many of us as Christians. First of all we tend to be followers instead of leaders in all things culture. In music we tend to follow the trends. When we finally get good at a certain genre of music we often awaken to realize that the trend has moved somewhere else now. In movies let’s just say that we’ve been, well, left behind. We’ve even come stumbling into the gaming world with, shall we say, less than stellar results. 

In the “spiritual realm” of church we are not much better. It seems like there are two extremes: On one side there are those who ram and cram the truth down people’s throats with no concern for the whole person. On the other side there is a movement that longs to be embraced as fully relevant (most often at the cost of preaching the whole counsel of God.) There is a movement of hip pastors guiding/architeching/whatevering hip churches with hip messages to hip congregants. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for asking and answering the question WWJD? I’m just not sure that de-emphasizing core doctrine and joining the world’s cause-of-the-week club would be his answer.

Of course I’m speaking in sweeping generalizations right now (it’s what dorks like me tend to do!) Of course there are those who have struck a balance between hipness and holiness (I’m still working on it personally!) Of course there are some great things that are happening in every group that I’ve mentioned above. But there are some things that are really scaring me too.

What concerns me most is that we seem increasingly obsessed with how we, as Christians, are perceived by the world. We want to communicate Christianity as hip, progressive and relevant. And oftentimes in our quest to seem relevant we dummy down the very message that makes Christianity unique and powerful. Whether it be taking out those song lyrics that are too in your face, joining the world’s cause-of-the-week club or cutting the doctrines of hell, sin and holiness from our vocabulary, we are always being tempted to worship hip over Him.

That’s why I love Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul is reminding the Galatian believers that he too was under pressure to “adjust” his message so that it would be acceptable to the world. But what kept him from doing this was the stark realization that you’re either pleasing Jesus or pleasing humans. You can’t please both at the same time.

Does that mean that we shouldn’t try to “become all things to all men so that by all means” we can save some of them? No. Does that mean that we shouldn’t try to communicate our message in a relevant way that starts with the hearer’s worldview and leads them gently to the Lord’s? A thousand times no!

What it does mean is this: We must realize that we preach a message that will be embraced by some and will be disregarded as irrelevant, dismissed as stupid or attacked as dangerous by most. Remember the truth that speaks so loudly from 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to be relevant. But we shouldn’t try so hard that we dilute the truth. We shouldn’t try at the expense of our message. We shouldn’t try at the expense of our Savior’s smile.

Personally I think the world will respect us more if we just come out of the closet with his message of truth. I think they will respect us more if we honestly communicate the core of our message with authentic humility and true love. They will probably still think that we are fools. But, at the very minimum, they will perceive us as fools with conviction.

At the end of the day we must embrace our “inner nerd.” Why? Because in spite of any of tattooes we may bear, designer clothes we may wear, bleached smiles we may flash, cool music videos we may produce, relevant churches we may guide or blockbuster movies we may direct, the real message of Jesus that we are called to proclaim will never be perceived as cool.

So what is our revenge as nerds (besides the book of Revelation)? It’s that the gospel message is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. It’s that God has in the past, is now and will in the future continue to use the disregarded, the mocked and the scoffed to bring about his eternal purposes on planet earth.

So lets clean the lenses from our McFly glasses, let’s make sure we have enough pens in our pocket protector, let’s use our hanky one last time to get rid of all the remnant boogers hanging from our noses, lets prepare ourselves for some huge wedgies (aka “persecution”)…and then let’s go change the world with the powerfully “uncool” message of Jesus.

Talk to all you dorks later.

Unlikely Fighter

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