bling

Expensive jewelry, titles, name recognition, awards, upscale brands, prestigious zip codes – having these things excites a lot of people, according to pop singer Lorde. When you have these, you live large. But she craves “a different kind of buzz.” As I read the New Testament, Christians are to crave an altogether different kind of buzz, too. Paul describes it well enough in his letter to the Philippians: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

There’s definitely a greatness that comes from knowing Christ Jesus. There’s definitely an excited anticipation in waiting to experience the power of his resurrection. It’s that other thing – the fellowship of sharing his sufferings, becoming like him in his death – that may seem like the fire extinguisher that drowns the buzz. Later generations will miss what Paul is talking about as they put on their Good Friday pageants complete with staged crucifixions. A desire to become like him in his death is a different thing altogether. It is the ultimate emptying oneself of everything that matters to self in exchange for living for others. While flashing diamond necklaces send a self-indulged message, the little cross worn around one’s neck should send an entirely different one to everyone who sees it: “I am one who is prepared to give myself for you because I die to my old self daily. If it’s deciding which I should do – spend my resources on me or on you, you will win most every time (unless what you want from me is to your spiritual or physical detriment).”

That buzz is so counter-culture, so counter everything, that it cannot be done by one’s own will or emotion. Even Paul will admit, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect.” The Holy Spirit must help us in our obvious weakness. As we hear sometimes on Christmas Eve, “The grace of God that brings salvation…teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.”

The early Christians created quite a buzz living that way. “See how they love one another,” was the common observation. They followed Peter’s counsel, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as … gold jewelry and fine clothes.” If the Church is to regain the culture’s attention, it will not do it through magnificent structures, self-help programs, or dazzling worship styles of any type. It will gain notice as its Lord once more inspires His members to live for Him and not for themselves. Living for Him means loving others. That’s a different kind of buzz.

- President Cripe