Ideas are sort of like clothes. Like when you find a new jean jacket and it instantly becomes your favorite. The fit is impeccable, as if it were designed for only you. You wear it everywhere with pride and are the envy of everyone. The jacket becomes your signature accessory and it assumes an almost timeless, classic status in the wardrobe. The color begins to fade and holes emerge, and these seem to give it more character, not less. But life eventually moves on. You get a new job that requires business attire. Weight is gained (or lost). And friends are now wearing leather jackets. You still love that the old jacket, but it’s lost its usefulness. That jacket might have defined you for a time, but now you’re really into athleisure.

When you learn something new and genuinely revolutionary, there is a slow decay from its original vibrancy, a “diminishing marginal utility”. Over time, the new thing transforms into the familiar thing, like a painting that fades into wallpaper. Ideas become taken for granted as something known, but without the emotional force they once had, they lose their radical quality. They may gather dust over time to eventually become forgotten and replaced altogether. Sometimes this process is both necessary and good. Adapting to new information and circumstances characterizes intellectual flexibility or personal growth just as stubbornness and rigid dogmatism are rarely commendable qualities.

The movement of ideas from vibrancy to wallpaper is of particular importance to note for Christianity, which is founded upon the world-shattering message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The announcement of its good news strangely warms hearts, incites a revolution of the self, and turns the world upside-down. But as time moves on, does the vitality of the message weaken like every other piece of news we consume?
Experientially, this is certainly the case, and it accounts for some of the ways people change their minds over the years. The original potency of what drew one to Christianity in the first place is so often reconfigured into the pursuit of different gospels or gospel-adjacent motifs and themes. Many go through phases on their spiritual journey like they change out clothes, mirroring the temperaments of various life-stages. Each step on their path provides a degree of fulfillment at the expense of spiritual eclecticism or the loss of faith altogether.

For better and worse, the gospel inevitably becomes quotidian from time to time, more like daily bread than a sumptuous feast. We can grow weary of the manna we’ve received and long for an Egyptian banquet of cucumbers, onions, melons, and garlic (Num. 11:4-6). The old gospel that used to so animate the soul is relegated to a past era of naivety. You’ve moved on.

But as the drama of one’s first encounter with the gospel gives way to routine, there is a virtue in holding fast to its rhythm through the erratic zigzags of life. To say that the gospel might become the wallpaper of our lives also implies that it can become our spiritual home, a place of safety and the backdrop that informs the whole of life. If the gospel feels lukewarm, this is not a sign of personal failure or sin, nor is it a failure by God, our preachers, or the good news itself. Instead, the experience of hot and lukewarm oscillations of the gospel together reflect the slow but deliberate work of God over time. Abraham lived several years between the times he heard God’s voice, but the promise of God remained nonetheless. The fire of evangelical potency does not go out, but smolders still—even when we do not smell its smoke.

The good news of Christianity is the announcement of unmerited salvation by the event of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The reception of this grace through faith is not merely the gateway into Christianity (like a wedding dress or tuxedo), but the essence of Christianity itself. This grace is the lens by which we are always understanding ourselves and the world around us. We return to the gospel again and again in the hopeful expectation that it continually renews and refreshes us. Like an old pair of blue denim jeans or Air Jordans, it only gets better with age, never really goes out of style, and always fits just right.