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Every once in a while, an ad for a TV show will pop up on my screen while I’m browsing the internet. The themes of the shows likely have to do with my online activity with this blog and my internet searches on all things God, so every now and then I’ll get an ad for a show about Satan. The actor playing that role (who in their right mind would play such a role? But maybe I’ve answered my question right there…) – the actor playing the role is classically good-looking in a bad-boy kind of way, and he’s usually shown wearing aviator shades. The “look” the creative producers are going for, I’d wager, is “cool”. I’ve never seen the show and have no intention of watching it, but that’s what I can figure from the ads that appear every now and then: “Satan is cool; watch this show about Satan being cool, and you’ll be cool, too!”
I’ve never really thought of Satan as being cool. When I was an atheist, I didn’t believe Satan existed any more than I believed God existed, so I didn’t spend any time thinking about Satan’s personality. Then, as soon as I was born-again, I knew that Satan was the last thing from cool. Slippery, yes; slimy, yes; to be avoided at all costs, yes; but cool, definitely not.
To the world, cool usually means a good-looking rebel who bucks the established order without breaking a sweat and wins all the goodies (including the good-looking mate) in the end. But this is not my version of cool. To me, cool implies fearlessness, a consistent and constant state where nothing ruffles you, where no amount of provocation sways you from your convictions. It also usually involves an attractiveness that is not necessarily based on looks but on charisma. I’ve known “cool” people who were not great-looking but strongly compelling. You overlooked their lack of looks (in fact, you didn’t even notice it) because their engaging personality made up for it.
Cool, in my books, also implies a quiet heroism based on doing the right thing and never backing down, regardless of the consequences. Someone who’s “cool” is also a quiet hero, someone who has your back, though you might not know it. Only later do you find out what was done for you, what was arranged behind the scenes, what deals were made and threats neutralized. All of this was done for you but never spoken about. Just done as a matter of course because that’s what cool people do, that’s what quiet heroes do, that’s what people who do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing do. That, to me, is a cool person.
So if you apply these character traits to Satan, you’ll see he’s the last thing from cool. But there is someone we know well and are getting to know better and better every day who does fit that description to a “T”.
His name is Jesus the Christ.
When he was in human form on Earth, Jesus was a cool guy in the truest sense of the word. Nothing fazed him. He never panicked. He could care less what people thought of him. And he feared only God. In fact, he looked at each and every situation not through the eyes of man but through the eyes of God. He saw the big picture but missed none of the details. He was incredibly strong in mind, body and spirit. He never caved to pressure or worried about public opinion.
At the same time, Jesus was intensely sympathetic, empathetic, sensitive, and passionate. He was no automaton and not in any way hard-hearted. Every choice he made, he explained why he was making it and he constantly made reference to scripture to back up his words.
We are to be like Jesus in everything we do. Not as cheap knock-offs, but as genuine followers remaining authentic to who we are (as God made us), while taking our cue from Jesus on how to respond to situations and people.
Being cool doesn’t mean you don’t occasionally lose your temper or cry (Jesus did both). It means that your response to a situation is warranted. We mourn with those who mourn, but we don’t wallow in tears of self-pity. We correct those who are teaching a false gospel (using forceful correction, if necessary), but we don’t get malicious with them. We occasionally have to overturn a few tables to get people’s attention, but we don’t resort to overturning tables on a daily basis. Like Jesus, we should do all things in good measure, and all according to what the situation calls for.
That’s being cool.
After he started his ministry work, Jesus was a rebel and an outcast from mainstream society, including mainstream religion. While the religious establishment continued to preach a doctrine of exclusionism, Jesus opened up God’s salvation to all people. While the religious establishment continued to preach an eye for an eye and hatred of one’s enemies, Jesus taught that we are to return unkindness with kindness and to love and bless our enemies. This new doctrine was incomprehensible to the religious establishment. It still is today.
The mainstream values of finding a job, getting married, having children, buying land, building a house, acquiring wealth and possessions, and dying at a ripe old age were also not part of the new doctrine preached by Jesus. Those he called to follow him left their jobs, spouses, children, land, houses, wealth and possessions to live a nomadic existence of itinerant preaching that was likely going to end in a gruesome death at a young age. All of this Jesus required of his followers because it was what God had required of him, and Jesus’ followers are to do everything that he does, using him as the example. And, like the doctrine of loving your enemies and turning the other cheek, this doctrine of living a nomadic existence as an itinerant preacher with no possessions beyond the clothes on your back is also incomprehensible to the religious establishment today. They think it doesn’t apply to them.
Being authentic to who we are as individuals while at the same time following Jesus’ example of how to respond to people and situations requires only one thing from us: putting God first. If we genuinely put God first in our lives, we will have no problem following Jesus in everything we do. When we’re called to ministry training, we will without a second thought walk away from our jobs, families, property and possessions, just like Jesus’ first disciples.
And most importantly, we will learn how to be cool, not as the world sees cool, but as Jesus was authentically cool during his time on Earth. Satan might have the appearance of cool, but he is all too aware of what awaits him when his time is up, and it terrifies him. Jesus has no such terror. He knew during his time on Earth the glory that awaited him in Heaven if he stuck to his allotted course, and it motivated and inspired him. Being terrified was never part of who Jesus was.
So – are you cool like Satan (that is, superficially cool, but underneath terrified) or are you cool like Jesus (authentically cool, and underneath still cool)?
I hope you’re cool like Jesus.
And just so you know, Jesus is just as cool now as he ever was. All the power and good looks he gained when he arrived in Heaven haven’t gone to his head. He’s still the same cool guy he was on Earth, only now he’s perfected and glorified, as we will be, too, if we stay our allotted course.