fad: a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc.,
especially one followed enthusiastically by a group.

"We must no longer be immature, tossed to and fro
and blown about by every wind of teaching..." (Eph 4.14)

One thing I've noticed about getting older is that I'm more aware of fads. It must be what they call "gaining perspective." Some of the people who seem so important and some new ideas that seem so powerful because they have such strong popular support are becoming more easily recognized as passing fancies. Maybe it's that they obviously don't have the substance to last. Or that I've seen enough other important people and world-changing ideas come and go that I'm starting to recognize the type.

I've found myself getting upset about them, though. Upset that the people I know are getting caught up in them, influenced by them, when they seem to be such irrelevant distractions. But then getting upset also gets me caught up in it, too, doesn't it?

I'm thinking most about fads in the church, and in the "radical Christian" circles especially. "Emergent" was a big fad that seems to be over now. "New Monasticism" seems like it's on the way out now too, though the people who started it are still popular, I don't hear that phrase thrown around like I used to. It's surprising how quickly the tide recedes when it turns. "Community," or communalism, seems to be back in fashion these days, after losing ground since the hippie era (with the membership of organized communities clearly marking this decline). And the current fad irking me at the moment is "anarcho-primitivism," which has become the popular topic among Christian anarchist types. Who knows, maybe this one might be influential long term, but it sure looks like another fad to me.

I suppose Jesus might have looked like a fad at the time too, with his quick rise to popularity.

But the thing is, he wasn't. One important sign that he was more than a fad, I think, is that he didn't use his popularity, he rejected the power of the crowds. There's the fact that Jesus is God, i.e. eternal. Not new at all. Taking the long view. Not really interested in capitalizing on what's currently popular in social culture. With the substance to last.

For those reasons I don't think Jesus, the real Jesus, is ever a fad. There's been plenty of fads that use his name, but it's not him that they focus on primarily, but the unique trendy characteristics of the movement. I notice the same with all those popular Christian movements I listed above. Knowing Jesus and being like him is not the central focus in any of them.

What I need to learn is to let the fads be. Recognize them for what they are and let them crash on the beach like waves, just taking a few steps back until they quickly slide into the sea. It's hard to see people I care about getting tossed around by them, but the way to help is not to fight it. Just keep insisting on what's really important, and eternal. Who Jesus is and becoming more like him. The eternal Word: "Follow me."