Friday, May 23, 2014

The Hipster Church

A few weeks ago, we discussed the uniqueness of God’s “hipster-ism”…and why it makes sense to follow the trends He’s set for us.

We also identified Jesus as the original hipster and that we are cool because God was first cool and made us in His image (which is the hipster paraphrased version of 1 John 4:19 & Genesis 1:27).

So if God’s cool and you’re cool…how’s a cool church supposed to function?

To answer this question, we’re going to investigate how the early church looked before it became known as “the church”.

Let’s look at the first few chapters in Acts…

In Acts 1, Jesus ascends into heaven. Immediately, the disciples are without the physical presence of the man they’d been following for three years of intense ministry. Yet, after the disciples return from Olivet, we find them back in the upper room, devoted in prayer.

Not only does this provide evidence to the fact Jesus was the ultimate hipster, but it also sheds light on the type of faith the disciples demonstrated.

You see, Jesus paved the way for his followers to know truth and live with real faith. The disciples weren’t praying with the mindset of, ‘This is the ‘happening’ thing to do’. They did it because they loved Jesus and wanted to be faithful to the example He had set. They also did it as an act of declarative faith into the future, since they believed the promise Jesus made in John 16:4-15 – the coming of the Holy Spirit (which is what the Day of Pentecost is all about).

Now, maybe you’re still confused about Jesus being referenced to as a hipster. If it helps, Jesus wasn’t a hipster in the urban dictionary sense. He didn’t live so people could conform to His trends, but He lived so people would conform to the trends He was obeying. He wasn’t obedient to the Father in order to be a likable, attractable guy. Rather, Jesus was obedient to His Father because He loved Him and the people He wanted to see transformed. Jesus knew the attention would come by how His faith manifested. The difference was He established trends out of selfless love as opposed to self-centered desires.

In other words, Jesus understood the difference between faith being a trend and faith being real. Even as the ultimate hipster, He could’ve cared less about being socially acceptable.

When we continue into Acts 2, we see a concentration on self completely out of the picture. What we find, instead, is true community (koinonia):

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” ~ Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

Note the final six words of Acts 2:44 - "[they] had all things in common.” Apparently, not only were early church believers unified in core values and beliefs, but also in daily priorities and behavior patterns. To them, every day was a chance to worship together, commune together and live out Isaiah 58 together. How awesome is that?

You see, the strength of early church unification was enhanced by the consistency of its giving, the frequency of its fellowship and the quality of its joint participation, all helping to establish koinonia in its purest form

As for the disciples, they helped anchor this movement because they believed in what they knew to be true and lived it out. They did not care about what was mainstream at the time or what the Pharisees or religious scribes were doing. They cared only about what Jesus had made real to them.

Bottom Line: So how does this relate to the 21st century church? Well, many would say hipster Christianity is the product of church and cool colliding…when young worships are composed of artistic searchers and bookish intellectuals. But if we are truly following the trend Jesus set, we will be moving in spirit and in power…not just in hollow singing, empty prayers and being socially aware.

Often, faith in Jesus is boiled down to how it makes you feel. But have you asked yourself what Jesus means to you…not about how he makes you feel, but how he makes you different? Does your faith make you feel like a better person, or does it truly make you better (i.e. a more loving, more compassionate, driven to act person)?


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