rebelling against low expectations

The Cool Kids Have a Cool God


The cool kids have a pretty cool God these days. I often hear him gushed about at the award ceremonies — you know, the Grammys, Tonys, MVP acceptance speeches.

And he really is for the cool people. He makes dreams come true and answers prayers for money and fame.

He’s not really, like, super involved and stuff, nor does he really care about what you do as long as your good stuff outweighs your bad. But he’s pretty easy going. He doesn’t get mad easily, and he’s super tame and friendly.

And he’s got great evangelists, impeccable walking advertisements. His preachers and teachers are unfailingly good-looking. They’re usually fabulously wealthy and wildly famous. People love them and so everybody listens to these cool folk espouse the goodness of their God. This is the cool God for the cool kids.

It’s unfortunate for them then that he doesn’t exist.

It’s also unfortunate that this non-existent, terribly cool god has been polluting imaginations for hundreds of years. Jonathan Edwards, in his eighteenth century book, Religious Affections, wrote this of the non-Christians of his time:

“And so, having formed in their minds such a God as suits them, and thinking God to be such an one as themselves, who favours and agrees with them, they may like Him very well and feel a sort of love to Him, when they are far from loving the true God.”

The cool kids love their god! Why do you think he’s the first one they mention in their acceptance speeches? He has been fashioned to suit them just fine; they “like Him very well” and so they feel this “sort of love” toward him. It’s a strange, distant sort of love that feels empty, or even one-sided sometimes. Perhaps that’s because this god is more like them than they realize. But it’s okay.

Or so they think. They float in their rich and famous lifestyles with their cool friends and their cool god and life is good. But a terrifying reality awaits them. And the glorious, righteous, wrathful God watches them. Says C.S. Lewis in his book, Miracles:

“An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. …

There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us!”

Our culture’s idea of this cool, genie god sadly doesn’t just haunt Hollywood. It haunts our churches, our homes, and sometimes even our own hearts. We can too easily fall into the idea of a man-made god, when the very real, very terrifying God, “the hunter, king, husband” sees us.

And we tell Him to chill. It’s not like we really need Him all the time, right? Except when we need a check. Or a boyfriend. Or a car or a house or healing or a college. Hollywood’s evangelists have done a good job.

It’s a good thing that Jesus didn’t come for the cool kids, the self-assured, independent ones. It’s a good thing that He didn’t come for the well but for the desperately sick, who know of their need for Him. Praise God for His grace, that those who repent of their pride and trust in Him will be saved. Praise God that He has allowed the weak to come to Him, that He has invited the broken. And pray for the cool kids, that they would see that their god is not so cool after all.

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Photo courtesy of lil’_wiz and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Great insight, Jaquelle! I have noticed how the rich and famous attribute their success to God and wondered how they can claim God is with them when their lifestyles clearly do not line up with what Jesus teaches. It makes sense that the “God” they are talking about is not the same as our God. I think that even Christians sometimes end up worshipping this “other God,” and that’s where complacency and luke-warm faith develop.

  • This is a good point made. Mostly this is a problem, and it is negative, and it gives an illusion of who God truly is. The only possible good point is that God is being brought up in such a public setting. For example, 92.3 a rap and hip hop station that makes many references to drugs violence and other subject, suddenly Sunday morning changes into a gospel station. I think that example mirrors the way many “Christians” lead their lives.

    • It might be because so many ‘believers’ don’t have a solid grasp of their identity in Christ. I don’t “go to church.” I AM church. The Ecclesia–the Called Out. I just “happen” to gather at certain times with like minded believers for corporate worship, study, etc. The building in which this happens is…hmmm…completely immaterial.

      That warped identity has roots in a warped view of Who God truly is…in my *very* humble opinion.

      I think you’re spot on about the hypocrisy too, even if it is a bit “off topic.”

    • I agree with you fully, Sam. By the way, I don’t think you’re far off topic. 🙂 So many “cool kids” are deeply hypocritical about their faith, i.e., they say that they love God and then act like they don’t. And Jeff’s right – that comes from a warped view of who God is.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

    • I agree, Danielle, that it’s not always negative that God is being brought up in public settings – at least He’s being brought up. Even still, as you said, it usually is a problem.

      That’s interesting about 92.3, how they play immoral music during the week but on Sunday mornings change to a gospel station. I think that’s a fantastic example of what I’m talking about. Thank you so much for sharing that!

  • Reading this hurts me.
    As a Christian, I’ve felt a burden on my heart for the desperate people of Hollywood for many years. It’s extremely difficult to hear them described in such a way.
    We know that many people recognize the celebrities of this world as the cool kids, as though they have it all. As Christians, we should not scorn them. We should only pity them. Because we know the truth. They are deprived human beings just as we were before Christ Jesus. Their lives hold the signs of desperation, and we can recognize them. More than that, we have the truth. We have the hope they so desperately search for. We are the ones who can share it with them. But with this attitude they will never listen.

    • Hey, @bizzylava, it was never my intention to hurt anyone with this article. And I absolutely agree with your assessment of so many Hollywood celebrities; they are sinners in need of a Saviour, just like us. I do not believe that we should scorn them, rather, as I pointed out in closing the article, that we should pray for them.

      Furthermore, as I mentioned, this belief in a false god is not just in Hollywood today. It’s in our churches and all around us and it even creeps into our own hearts on occasion. But you’re right; we have the truth, and so we can share that truth with those around us.

      The tone of my article was not meant to offend, but to encourage people to consider and pray for this serious problem in our culture today. Thanks for commenting.

      • I may have missed the last sentence when I read your article the first time.
        I like C.S. Lewis’s portrayal of God, but I would also say God has qualities similar to the god of the cool kids. He is a good God. I love verses like Luke 11:9-13; Mark 11:22-24; Matthew 21:21-22; Psalm 37:4. And there are a lot of others.
        I realize there’s a very good possibility that you do recognize these qualities in God; I just thought I would bring it up.
        More than being offended, I was merely concerned at the tone of the article and the tone it may be encouraging in others who have the ability to share the good news with those who need it. In the church this is truly something that needs to be changed. God’s name should be recognized globally the way He has always desired it to be: The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. Exodus 34:6-7. Hallowed actually means glorified. May His name be glorified among His people and may the people who do not believe be awed by who He really is.

  • This is absolutely spot on. What a sad commentary on the youth in churches. As an older person, I watched firsthand the demise of youth meetings built around solid doctrinal teaching. Instead we are taught compromise by being our own authority in manners of living righteously.

    Isaiah 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil goodand good evil,who put darkness for lightand light for darkness,who put bitter for sweetand sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,and shrewd in their own sight!

  • C.S. Lewis said it beautifully, “I want God, not my idea of God.” God is so much better than anything we could create in our imagination. He doesn’t tell us everything we do is perfectly acceptable, but in love tells us the truth about our actions and how much we need Him. Despite our sin, He still loves us and made us His own. That’s much better than a “god” accepting my every sin and telling me that it’s no big deal.

  • This is truly an insightful article, Jaquelle! A culture that accepts the cool God can be much more dangerous than one that adamantly rejects any idea of one, because it is just so invasive to the Church. It’s a new way of breaking the 1st commandment: worshiping a god that we’ve invented. It’s sad that, in our attempt to help people to “experience” God, we’ve invented one that is defined only by emotion or our subjective morals. We really do need to pray for the “cool kids” and bring this confused world to the knowledge of the Truth of Him Who has revealed Himself through His word and creation. Thank you for sharing this!

    • You’re welcome, Nathan. I’m glad I could encourage you. We live in a truly idolatrous, confused age, but what a powerful opportunity we have to, as you put it, bring the knowledge of the Truth to the people around us. I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for your comment!

  • Hey Jaquelle,
    Excellent article. It’s funny how Satan makes the wrong choice so appealing, then when time runs out, it’s not so appealing anymore. I like how one lady explains it in God’s Not Dead:

    Sin is like a jail sell – except the door’s wide open. But because it’s so comfortable, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. Then suddenly, the door slams shut, and suddenly, it’s not so comfortable anymore. But it’s too late because time’s run out.

    We have to be careful to stay out of that jail sell and not be decided by that fake god.

    Thanks a million, Jaquelle,
    – Trent

    • I remember that quote! Have you noticed that when try to get you to do something, they use a different tone of voice? I imagine that’s what Satan does.

  • Cool article man, far out. =vD *Two Thumbs Up* Appreciate your jab at America’s idol of a mamzy-pamzy, laid-back version of God and Jesus who in reality don’t exist.

  • God is love. God is not hateful or wrathful or unforgiving. He is love and forgiveness. He is not cruel or judgmental. He sees our flaws and he sees us ache. We ask for forgiveness and he is quick to forgive and forget. I for one think my god is pretty cool. Because I am not perfect, I am a sinner, so I need a savior. And he washes away MY wrath and My judgements. He is merciful and that is more than cool, that is amazing. I know my life does not align perfectly with what Jesus teaches, because I am a sinner, that doesn’t mean I can’t love my god or attribute my blessings to him. Because from him blessings flow. No one is perfect, and Jesus knows that. We must strive for holy lives, but when we stumble he picks us up. No matter who we are. My god is pretty cool

  • This is good my pastor talks about people like this and churches and as he likes to say “those people wouldn’t even notice of God didn’t even show up” and he’s right he doesn’t. God May be a God of love but he’s also a god of power, wisdom, and judgement. He may be a God of mercy but his mercy has a limit. There is a point of so deep sin for Christians that he will bring them home to Him. For unbelievers he will only wait so long for them to come to him. After they’ve hardened their heart so much he will no longer call them to get saved he will give them over to a “reprobate mind”. It’s important to remember all of the aspects of God’s personality, not just that he is a God of love.

    • Absolutely, Sydnie. I agree completely! God has many attributes that He has revealed in His Word and we have a responsibility to worship Him rightly by recognizing all of those attributes as equally glorious and worthy of praise. Blessings to you! 🙂

    • Were it not for His Righteousness, Holiness & Judgement, we’d have no need for His Mercy, Grace and Love.

      From an old Michael W Smith song:

      Great is the Lord, He is Holy and Just
      By His Power we trust in His Love

      Great is the Lord, He is Faithful and True
      By His Mercy He proves He is Love

      Great is the Lord
      And worthy of Glory
      Great is the Lord
      And worthy of Praise
      Great is the Lord
      I lift up my voice, I lift up my voice
      Great is the Lord!
      Great is the Lord!

  • Thanks Jaquelle! It’s depressing to think about how many people are trusting in this false god. We MUST be ready “to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

  • Hey that’s pretty awesome, good job! One thing kinda didn’t jazz with me and maybe it’s just me… Anyway when you say that God didn’t come for a certain group of people, or a class that we put them in? I thought Jesus came for the world, for all of us? Did I just catch what you were saying wrong or is there something I missed?

    • Thanks, Jess! I appreciate your question. When I use the term, “cool kids” in this article, I’m referring to people who reject the true God in favour of an idol. I believe that Jesus died to save all those who repent of their sin and trust in Him, and that if any “cool kids” do that, they are most assuredly saved.

      Hope that makes sense! Blessings to you!

  • That was cool! (Pardon me, lol) No but seriously, good job! Insightful, and extra points for the C.S. Lewis quote. 😉
    Question though: can God be cool, if we accept Him for Who He really is? Is that not cool?

    • Just looked it up. Cool means “fashionably attractive or impressive.” And since fashionable means, “characteristic of, influenced by, or representing a current popular trend or style,” I believe the answer is no technically. God doesn’t care what people think of Him and He is not ‘fashionable’. I totally agree though that if you mean cool as in awesome, then God is cool.

rebelling against low expectations

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