Summary: When we feel insecure, we back off from situations. But when the Holy Spirit comes, there is passion, there is witness.
Is everybody cool? Is everybody cool? I am not referring to the temperature in the building, but to the climate in your soul! Are you cool? “Cool” is an all-purpose word, used to describe a certain attitude. Instead of defining it, let me illustrate it.
I was attending a repast at a family home, having completed the funeral service and the burial. When I arrived, the immediate family, the people I knew, had all retreated to the kitchen to get the food ready. That left the rest of us, their friends and neighbors and I, all standing around in the living room, waiting.
Well, you don’t just stand around, you know. You try to be friendly. You strike up a conversation. I turned to a young man on my right and made small talk. He just looked at me and nodded his head, and said not a word. Not much happening over there.
So I turned to my left and asked one of those who-are-you- and-how-are-you-doing questions to a woman. “I’m just a neighbor. Just live across the street.” Her hands went up, and she turned and looked out of the window. Her body language clearly said, “I am not dealing with you.”
I don’t give up easily. I tried again. I floated over to two men who were standing next to one another but who were not actually talking. I nodded, I smiled, I said something about the weather, and guess what? They both nodded, and then each turned away. No response at all!
So what’s guy to do? Three strikes and you are definitely out. So I adopted a strategy that has been tested from time immemorial. It is a strategy that works in all kinds of socially awkward settings. It is a technique that will get you through, no matter how uncomfortable you are. I decided I would stand around looking cool.
Standing around looking cool. Do I need to describe for you what that looks like? Standing around looking cool is a pose of studied nonchalance. Standing around looking cool is folding your arms, leaning against the wall, hiding your eyes behind sunglasses if possible, and acting like you own the place. Standing around looking cool is a posture that says, “I don’t need you and don’t you bother me.” It is a manner that communicates, without saying a mumblin’ word, “I know who I am; don’t care who you are” Standing around looking cool is a way of getting through a socially unpleasant scene just by acting as though you know what’s going on and who’s who.
In fact, I can even show you the look. I came equipped this morning. One of you brought me a prop. This shirt says on the front, “Joe Cool”. Given my first name, it’s right on target. The real message is back here. Snoopy as Joe Cool. Behind the shades, the very picture of posed confidence, studied nonchalance, standing around looking cool. I’m hanging it right here so that you can see the sermon!
Comedian Bill Cosby does a routine in which he describes a little old lady. This little old lady just can’t keep up with this modern world. She hasn’t got a clue as to what her grandchildren are talking about. She has listened to all the pop songs and has not understood one single word. But she is not about to let you know that. So she smiles, she nods, she projects this air of worldly wisdom. She stands around looking cool. In fact, says Bill Cosby, he has figured out that that’s how you get to be a little old lady. You get to be a little old lady by standing around looking cool, and nobody will mess with you.
Well, you know, the trouble is, that’s not what we really want out of life. Standing around looking cool is not much of a goal. What we really want is a deeply satisfying, emotionally enriching experience. We don’t want just to stand off on the sidelines pretending to be cool. We want to be passionate. We don’t want is to be little old ladies; we want to be alive and vital and strong. Even little old ladies don’t want to be little old ladies. They want some zest in life! We want excitement, we want power, we want something that rewards us. We want fulfillment, we want connection; we want more than emptiness and distance.
But still, when we really don’t feel comfortable, we stand around looking cool.
Actually, that’s a defense mechanism. It’s something people do when they feel insecure. They think they have to pose as strong and tough when they are not. The first thing I want you to see is that when God gets involved in your life, God nudges you away from looking cool. God does this by assuring you of His love and power. When God gets involved in our lives, He takes away the need to standing around looking cool; He assures us that He has claimed us as His own and has made us somebody. We don’t need to pretend any more.