“If you could speak to the entire female population on this campus, what would you want to tell them?”

We had gone out late to get ice cream cones and were back on campus throwing philosophies and thoughts back and forth. Cans of worms are my favorite late-night snack, and I was offering this one to Archie. 

It took him a while to think, but here is what he, interestingly, responded with. He said he would tell them not to be easily convinced by the men around them who aren’t all who they say they are. He said there’s a lot of fakers and masks, specifically one called the “Sexy Perfect Christian Man.” He said too many guys are trying to put on this image in order to be accepted and get girls’ attention without truly being themselves and truly being all in for Jesus.

“I know; I’ve tried to be that guy.” He was blunt and honest. 

When being a Christ-follower becomes the “cool” thing to do, we need to reevaluate. As far as I can see, Jesus was murdered, abandoned, and hated. His disciples were slaughtered, his people targeted. The church, HIS body, has been attacked since Pentecost. Jesus promised us this. Exhibit A: Mark 13:13, John 15:18, Matthew 10:22. 

There is no such thing as a popular Christian; it’s an oxymoron. The world is SUPPOSED to hate us. Granted, I hope that among ourselves as believers, we love one another, but a consequence of our Bible-college-campus subculture has been this subtle erection of a hierarchy. It’s like high school at times, and, as Archie described it, there’s the Christianized version of the jocks: the brooding, deep, theological men who dress well and act all serious and the girls love them.

There is a sad ring of truth here that applies to believers everywhere. Because of the heavy individualism of American culture, I feel it’s hit the USA the hardest. Unfortunately, as our faith has become juvenilized over time and the world has seeped in, the normal human struggle of wanting to be well-liked has morphed into this perverted, Jesus-ified version of a popularity contest for guys and girls alike. If left unchecked, we find we’re not studying the Word to know God but rather to impress others; we’re praying to look good; we value appearing like solid Christians over actually being solid Christians who can think apart from the fallen culture around us.

Jesus addressed such matters—the people who know what is right but put on a false image in order to squeeze admiration out of those around them and be viewed highly in society. We know them from the Gospels and from history: they were called Pharisees, and Jesus called them hypocrites.

Would you give up your “cool” if Christ asked you to? Well, this is gospel: He has.

Being a Christian is never about you. The only thing individual about Christianity is that Christ calls individuals. Being in the body of believers is collective, for Jesus died not for just your sin but for SIN. Our carefully cultivated images shatter when it comes to the grace of God. We are free to be ourselves, not a distorted copy of what some obscure subculture declares as attractive and “cool.”

See the truth. Drop the mask. Be who you really are.

“Then He said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me’” (Luke 9:23).