I want to be a hipster. Not that kind of hipster. A new kind of hipster. The original hipster.
You might say, “What in the non-mainstream world could you be talking about?”
The hipster subculture typically consists of white millennials living in urban areas. The subculture has been described as a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior” and is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), generally progressive political views, organic and artisan foods, and alternative lifestyles. Hipsters are typically described as affluent or middle class young Bohemians who reside in gentrifying neighborhoods. – Wikipedia
Just like every new generation of young intrepid souls, a sector of the current “Gen-Y millennial” has created a lifestyle vibe in an effort to stand out and be unique. At the core, it’s the natural inclination and desire to make a mark on the world, but as each one before it, the “hipster” culture is just another fad that will eventually fade away and morph into another fad as a new generation arises. But who was this “original hipster?”
Jacob was the original hipster.
Not yours truly, but the Jacob of Biblical times. Oh you thought he was just a lying crook who stole stuff that didn’t belong to him? His brother Esau would probably agree with you, but you’d both be missing the bigger picture.
Aside from being misunderstood, Jacob was stubborn. He was passionate. He was a fighter. How do we know this? Here’s the account from Genesis 32:
“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall be no longer called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. – [Genesis 32]
What would it be like to be able to say that you literally wrestled with God and then He broke your hip? But you were persistent, weren’t satisfied with the ordinary, wouldn’t give up until He blessed you, and wouldn’t give up until the breakthrough was made.
I’ve often wondered at what point during that epic all-night showdown that he began wondering, “Who exactly is this guy?” Historical Hulk? Ironman? Captain Canaan?
Jacob had just finished preparing a massive “don’t hate me” gift to his brother Esau out of fear for his life and family in hopes that Esau wouldn’t kill them all. Jacob gave explicit instructions to his servants to butter Esau up as much as possible before they arrived face to face. It even says that Jacob was “greatly afraid” and packed up his wives and kids and sent them across the river for protection while he stayed and waited for the arrival of Esau.
Isn’t that just like us? Fearing for our livelihood and making plans to thwart our imminent ruin as best as humanly possible? How many times have we done that in our own lives?
Then the crazy part happens. God shows up. Of course, like many of us, Jacob didn’t immediately realize it wasn’t Esau trying to strangle him to death. Only the fight or flight instinct kicking in, propelling him forward to fight for his very life.
Suddenly, after an entire night of wrestling he feels a sharp pain in his hip and realizes that his socket is out of joint. I’ve never dislocated my hip, but I’ve got to imagine it must be pretty painful. And that’s when he goes for broke and declares he won’t let go until he gets blessed.
That’s an incredible story. Jacob limped for the rest of his life as a mark and reminder of having encountered God face to face. The great preacher Jonathan Edwards once said:
“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” – Jonathan Edwards
It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of the next big thing, but how do we anchor ourselves in the midst of the many shifting trends of our time? I believe it’s a matter of being intentional about where we set our hearts and affection. Every human on the planet has to choose where their affections will rest. For the believer in Jesus Christ, our highest affections must rest in Him.
I want to be known as this kind of “hipster:” the one marked by the uncompromising pursuit of God.