There have been some recent articles in Relevant Magazine and Christianity Today that have talked about “hipster” subculture. Both articles talk about the positive and negative effects that this subculture has had on Christianity. But I think the Relevant article was wrong on a point that I would like to bring up. In an article from the September/October issue of Relevant Magazine, Brett McCracken says that hipsters have helped Christianity by being “passionately appreciative of the finer things in life. I’m talking about material things here (clothes, jewelry, sunglasses, cameras, antiques, food, wine, etc.), but also the experience of life in general. With childlike awe and wonder that betrays their otherwise cynical demeanor, hipsters glory in the little pleasures of life—like riding bikes along rivers, eating homemade macaroons on a blanket in a friend’s front yard or playing Frisbee in the park. Perhaps this attitude is something the rest of Christendom might do well to model.”
You see these kinds of posts all over Facebook/Twitter. They go something like this:
- Family breakfast, long run, naps all around, river cruise, ice cream & peaches for dinner. I love summer evenings.
- Last night’s dinner at the cottage: grilled tuna, sweet corn, balsamic-glazed peppers, raspberries. All the old stories, lots of laughter with great friends.
- Picnic at the park with sun on my face with three sweet friends. Life is good.
- Lunch break at my favorite restaurant. Now listening to the best mix CDs ever.
Let me be the first to say that I love and affirm the Westminster Catechism in saying, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” I also have hanging above my desk a popular quote by my late pastor, Kyle Lake, that says, “Love God. Embrace Beauty. Live life to the fullest.” These are all mottos that are essential to my life personally. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus came that we might have life to the fullest (see John 10:10). But defining “life to the fullest” as eating homemade macaroons with friends slightly misses the point of Jesus’ words, I believe. If I’m not mistaken, Jesus said to gain your life you must lose it (see Luke 9:24). He also goes on to say, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” (Luke 9:25 MSG)
What I think happens sometimes is we slowly drift from our chief end being to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever to glorifying our every desire and enjoying ourselves as long as we can. And my problem with the slew of posts similar to the ones above on Facebook/Twitter is that they revolve around food and friends most of the time. It’s more about the phrase “life is good” than the acknowledgement that “God is good.” It is less about Christianity and Christ and more about hedonism/humanism and us. I believe this is one underlying reason atheism is on the rise in our culture. We prefer to worship ourselves rather than God. If “what we believe is all that matters,” then we remove any need for external authority. If I want to eat it, then I can eat it. If it feels good do it. If I don’t want to go, I shouldn’t have to. Nobody can tell me what to do. If I think this is true, then it must be true.
The other problem is epic moments are hardly the life of discipleship when you read the New Testament and look at your own life. Sure there are plenty of miracles in the Bible, but Jesus also refuses for people to build their life around these “epic” moments (see Matthew 12:38-41 for one example). Discipleship is often about grit, drudgery and the grind. And when we only live for those “transcendent” moments, we end up missing a huge part of life that is actually the most important part: this present moment. Oswald Chambers says it this way: “We have the idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing—that He is preparing and equipping us for some extraordinary work in the future. But as we grow in His grace we find that God is glorifying Himself here and now, at this very moment. If we have God’s assurance behind us, the most amazing strength becomes ours, and we learn to sing, glorifying Him even in the ordinary days and ways of life.” So maybe you should think about tweeting something like this sometime: “Today was ordinary. Work was normal. I saw the same people and did the same things I normally do. God is good!”