Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Sad Reality That So Few ‘Cool’ Guys Ever Become Christians”

First Corinthians 1.26-31

 

How am I to explain the fruitfulness of our recent camp in Wrightwood? I have no confidence we prayed more than we usually pray for and during other camps. I have no confidence I was in any way better prepared to preach than I was for and during other camps. To be sure, blessings are ultimately the result of God’s sovereign good pleasure to bestow, and we are not only grateful to labor in the Lord’s vineyard, but also delighted to see fruit that remains. However, there are variables that relate to the use of means. I would like to point out one variable to you that I noticed after camp.

I mentioned it the Sunday evening after we returned from camp, after pondering the wonderful time God gave us in the mountains. Not only did I pray and meditate about what was experienced by many at camp, but also what was missing at camp. As I was casting about, my mind lit on the general demeanor of our campers, the sweetness of the campers, the general humility throughout the range of ages that were represented. That is when I noticed what was missing from camp. We were completely without anyone who I would categorize as cool. I am certainly not cool. We had no cool guys at camp, and it was great.

Wikipedia contains this comment under the heading of cool: “The sum and substance of cool is a self-conscious aplomb in overall behavior, which entails a set of specific behavioral characteristics that is firmly anchored in symbology, a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions and voice modulations that are acquired and take on strategic social value within the peer context.”[1] Wikipedia opines that cool is not natural, is self-conscious, and is acquired behavior. Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the slang word cool as an adverb referring to someone who is emotionally uninvolved; uncommitted; dispassionate.[2]

Who is the personification of coolness in American culture? None other than Joe Cool, an alias of the Peanuts cartoon strip character Snoopy, shown on the back page of your bulletin. While cartoonist Charles Schulz was alive and drawing his cartoon characters, main character Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, took on several imaginary characters over the years. One of them was as the World War 1 flying ace, who challenged the Red Baron for control of the skies. Another was named Joe Cool, who hung out at the student union of the nearby college, just leaning against the wall, looking cool and doing nothing.[3] Look at the picture of Joe Cool below and you will see all there is of what I call coolness. There are the shades. Many people wear shades, but cool guys use shades for more than eye protection and comfort. They use shades to look good, as well as to hide behind. Shades help cool guys pull off their affectation of being uninvolved, uncommitted, and dispassionate. Shades make it so much easier to affect the facial gestures so necessary to being cool.

After the shades, we see the posture. Cool guys have to have a certain posture or they simply are not cool. Their posture reflects their nonchalant attitude of emotional distance and unconcern. You certainly cannot put clothes on a cartoon character beagle, but if Joe Cool were pictured with clothes, it would certainly include those tight jeans or the pants worn too low that Yahoo.Com recently listed as men’s fashion crimes. Perhaps even lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground.

Cool guys simply have to dress a certain way; from the shades, to the hair, to the scruffy whiskers, to the pants worn too low, in order to accompany the emotional distancing and noninvolvement techniques they employ to protect their fragile egos from any risk of embarrassment and humiliation. You see, Joe Cool is all about ego. Joe Cool is terribly proud, and his ego is extremely fragile. Therefore, he goes to great lengths to look like he does not care, to act like he does not care, because he cares very, very much and will do almost anything to avoid the possibility of being humbled.

The title of this sermon is, “The Sad Reality That So Few ‘Cool’ Guys Ever Become Christians.” This is a sermon based upon the truth of God’s Word, because there is a passage in scripture that directly pertains to the kind of person you picture in your mind as Joe Cool. Sadly, very few Joe Cool types ever become Christians. Perk up you cool guys. This sermon is for you.

Turn to First Corinthians 1.26-31, and stand for the reading of God’s Word with me:

 

26     For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27     But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28     And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29     That no flesh should glory in his presence.

30     But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

31     That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

 

I submit to you that those who are spoken of by the Apostle Paul in this passage are just like, in every significant way, those most people would think of as being cool, and would not be far from the thinking of most people when the drawing of Joe Cool is considered. Think about it, my friends. Paul refers to those who are wise in their own minds, mighty and noble in their own imaginations. Perhaps they were also affluent, giving them some semblance of coercive authority, but the truly significant characteristics of those mentioned in this text were their opinions of themselves, just as the opinions of themselves are so very valuable to those who work so hard to think of themselves as cool.

When you consider those who are cool from the vantage point of my age and experience, it is really sad to consider the games they play instead of humbling themselves and being real. Some guy acts cool around a girl and she believes that he is as he pretends to be . . . until she marries him and is disappointed that the illusion is nothing like the reality of the frightened boy she was enticed to marry. So sad. Now she is faced with the challenge to mother the frightened little boy she had hoped to be a wife and life’s partner to.

There are three considerations in connection with the sad reality that so few cool guys ever become Christians:

 

First, CONSIDER THE REALITY OF THIS PERSON’S BEHAVIOR

 

So much posturing. So much affectation. So much play acting and pretending to be above it all. Such ego-driven defense mechanisms. Joe Cool is trapped in the role of the cool character he plays, so that he is bound to a predictable pattern of conduct that is difficult for a cool guy to break free from:

The first thing the cool guy does is completely avoid the means of grace. Why is it that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called? I suppose the most prominent reason is that the cool guy does just about everything he can to avoid the means of grace. The cool guy will not come to a prayer meeting, because that is not cool. The cool guy will not come to church, because that is not cool. The cool guy will not come to the Bible study, because that is not cool. The cool guy will not come to evangelism, because that is just not cool. You know? The cool guy would never be caught reading a Bible, because that would cause someone to think he had a problem, or that he was seriously thinking about his sins. Of course, those who are dispassionate and uncommitted, which is what cool guys are, simply cannot give anyone the impression that they are scared of going to Hell, that they are terrified when they contemplate the wrath of God, or that they ever lose sleep thinking about an eternity in the lake of fire. Those wise after the flesh, those mighty, those noble in Paul’s day, are very much those who in our day are thought to be cool. Perhaps it is a cool twenty year old, or a cool young businessman, or a cool entrepreneur, or a cool professional, or a cool failure who tries to be ghetto by wearing his baseball cap backwards. Joe Cool would never let anyone see him going to church, and certainly would never stoop to admitting that he was a sinner in need of Christ, or that he thought it necessary to speak to the pastor.

The next thing the cool guy does is resist the means of grace. The problem with being cool is that it is entirely affectation, which is to say, an act. Think about it. How can a guy be cool while riding a bicycle? Yet I have seen many a kid riding a bike as though he was sitting atop a $25,000 motorcycle. Some guys actually walk through the mall trying to look cool. I wonder, how can a little guy in shades while wearing shabby clothes with no money to speak of be cool? Yet, in his own mind, he is very cool. Since it is entirely an affectation of the mind that works so hard to exhibit itself outwardly to convince others of its reality, it is entirely possible to live at home, to pay no rent, to work only a part-time job, to drive a car owned by your parents, to have no education to speak of, to have no meaningful accomplishments at this point in life, to have to actually attend church because mom and dad make you, and still you manage the affectation of being cool. There is the hair, the shades, the tight pants, the loose pants worn way too low, the noncommittal and nonchalant attitude, and even the childish passive rebellion displays that are so important to the guy who thinks himself cool. Joe Cool cannot actually avoid the means of grace, so instead he will resist the means of grace, and will resist being a means of grace to others. You see, when you are cool, the lost condition of others cannot be a concern to you. He has great suits to wear, but of course he will not dress properly for church. He will not bring his Bible to church. He will sit behind someone so he cannot be seen by the preacher. He will come into the auditorium as late before the service begins as he can. He will not greet visitors and welcome them to his church, because would suggest concern and commitment. Neither will he act particularly interested, lest those sitting around him think he is in any way affected by the damning evidence of his soul’s impending destruction. Little kids think cool guys really are cool, so they will mimic Joe Cool’s nonchalance, adding to that list of crimes he will answer for at the Great White Throne judgment on the Day of Judgment. However, Joe Cool’s ego is so fragile, and he is so intimidated by the prospect that some would think he is not really cool, that he dares not become interested in the message from God’s Word, because he is afraid to show interest in the sermon. You understand by now that Joe Cool is all about pride and arrogance. His concerns are motivated by fear. Not fear of God, but fear that his peers will judge him harshly, and disapprove should he show any concern for his soul. So, again and again and again, he chooses to bow before the opinions of men rather than bowing before God. The Spirit of God is working to convict him of his sins, especially his sin of pride, while his determination is to resist the means of grace, to grieve and quench the Spirit of God, and by all means necessary to avoid humbling himself before God. Oh, how he struggles against God.

This will result in our cool guy not only avoiding the means of grace when he can, and resisting the means of grace when he has no other choice. It will also result in him not being chosen by God, First Corinthians 1.27-29:

 

27     But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28     And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29     That no flesh should glory in his presence.

 

The cool guy’s concern for his own glory, and his lack of concern about God’s glory, will guarantee that God’s choice of whom to save will be other sinners, and not him.

 

Next, CONSIDER THE REASON GOD WILL NOT CHOOSE HIM

 

Turn to First Peter 5.5, where the apostle advises young Christians about Christian conduct in general, about their relationship with their pastor (referred to as elder), and the overarching principle that is involved: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” My friends, God resists people who are proud, and gives grace only to those who are humble.

Turn to James 4.6, where instruction is provided for Christians with respect to this world we live in and this enemy who works to ruin us called the Devil. The key to victory for the Christian? “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” What you need, my friend, is grace. However, we see again that God gives no grace to the proud. He resists the proud, and gives grace to those who are humble.

The problem, of course, is that Joe Cool is proud if he is nothing else. His posturing, his affected social distance, his reluctance to engage emotionally, the whole act he is committed to is built on a foundation of pride. In order to avail himself of God’s grace, the cool guy must humble himself, something he is terrified of doing. Scared though he must be, humble himself he must. Why so? Because God’s stated goal is to “confound the wise,” “to confound the things that are mighty,” and “to bring to nought things that are.” The Greek word translated confound means to put to shame.[4] You see, anything that exalts itself God is determined to bring down, even you if you are cool.

Pharaoh was cool, yet God brought him down. Nebuchadnezzar thought himself cool, yet God brought him down to eating grass like a wild animal, until his reason returned to him and he said, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase,” Daniel 4.37. Nebuchadnezzar knew, because God had abased him.

 

Finally, CONSIDER THE REMEDY GOD DEMANDS

 

I refer to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar and those Paul was referring to in our text for today. Of course, the ultimate end of those who are cool is not a case of embarrassment in front of their friends. If only it where that. The great tragedy that results from a proud avoidance or a proud resistance of the means of grace is the more than embarrassing eternal damnation that awaits you. Joe Cool thinks he will take his shades off someday and come to Christ, but it usually does not happen that way. Habits, once formed, are difficult to break, and God’s Spirit will not always strive with a man.

What is required of you to avoid the certain damnation that awaits you is quite simple. You must abandon your present posture. Forsake it completely and flee to Christ. I am not saying you can never wear shades again. However, you must cast off this pretense of being cool, of pretending that important things are not important, of pretending that emotional detachment and noninvolvement is a wise course of action, and that not caring is somehow correct. Pride in all its forms is sinful. That is why God resists those who are proud. Humility is the posture assumed by someone who recognizes that he is poor and needy, and that is why God is so willing to give him grace. Why pretend you are not poor and needy when God’s Word declares that you are? Why adopt an illusion of pretending to be self-sufficient when the Spirit of God is working through the means of preaching and prayer and church to persuade you that you desperately need Christ?

Two thousand years ago the Apostle Peter stood on the steps leading up to the Temple courtyard and preached what we now refer to as his great Pentecostal sermon, portions of which are recorded in Acts chapter two. On that day, he confronted a somewhat captive audience of proud and seemingly self-sufficient men about their guilt in the sight of God and their complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Their hearts were pierced. They wondered what they should do. Peter said, “Repent.”

Turn away and cast off this pretense of self-sufficiency. Recognize that it is fatal. Admit that it is folly. What you need instead of this play-acting is the humility to come to Jesus as a needy sinner. We see you for what you really are, no different than any of us, and just as much in need of the Savior as everyone else.

 

Please do not misunderstand. I do not dislike cool people, I just realize that I am not cool and never will be. I arrived at this conviction at a very young age. I grew up on different Indian reservations, rubbing shoulders with Indian chiefs and leaders, visiting Congressmen and Senators, and visiting diplomats from foreign countries coming to see American Indians. All who were people who worked so hard to display their sophistication. I could see right through it as a child. Each person was a different kind of Joe Cool, pretending to be all high and mighty, working hard to convince himself and others that he was self-sufficient and in need of nothing God has to offer. I observed the same thing with those in the military, and in law enforcement. My friends, it is all around us.

Please do not think such people cannot ever be saved, for the Bible does not teach that. Scripture is very clear “that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” The danger is not the position or the power, but the pride that accompanies it, the pretense that is associated with it, and avoidance and the resistance of the means of grace, and the unwillingness to humble yourself.

Would Joe Cool have been welcome at our camp? Yes. Sometimes a cool guy will display the moral courage to cast off his pretense, humble himself, and come to Christ. And we always want to give a sinner that opportunity. Just be clear about this: No one is fooled when someone pretends to be cool, except those who, themselves, are foolish.

We know you are frightened. We know you do not want to admit to yourself or to anyone else how scared you are to show the real you. We know you are hiding behind a facade and pretense. However, we love you anyway, and declare to you that God loves you anyway. So, why not cast away the pretense and come to Christ? Being cool is, in part, an attempt to avoid embarrassment, an attempt to insulate yourself against being rebuked and challenged and held to account for your sins. However, you need to understand that that is exactly what must happen to prepare a sinner’s heart to come to Christ. Give it up, my cool, friend. Give it up and come to Christ.

Joe Cool


[2] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 401.

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 389.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org