WHEN you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with Jesus: Today, Tomorrow, Forever you can expect reactions. One recent day I got more than I expected. Especially from myself.
When I got dressed I hardly noticed the shirt I reached for, though I’ve always liked the fit of this T-shirt.
Having seen my wife off to work, I commenced some work in the yard with my son helping (picking up bark in his toy truck). We then visited my ‘back doctor’ as my lumbar spine had flared. No immediate improvement. Continued frustration boiled beneath my persona. Arriving home briefly my son felt moved to make Mum a lovely card, which I helped him with. The finished memento was beautiful but there were some tears shed in its making, and apparently Dad was part of the problem. At one point as we drove off to get the groceries my son said, “I love Mum, but you are the worst Dad.” (Not the first time I’ve heard that sort of thing from any of my kids! Probably won’t be the last time.) The morning had been more eventful than he or I would have liked. Just normal life.
When we arrived at the shopping mall, that’s when this thing hit.
Suddenly I heard an “Amen, brother” as a woman walked past me. I hardly had the presence of mind to respond, though I knew it was my T-shirt that prompted her remark. With each footstep from then on God’s Spirit was reminding me, You should have been more careful in dressing this morning… despite your negative mood, now you cannot hide your allegiance. I know you want to advertise Me, but be careful what you wish for (i.e. opportunities for God conversations when you’re not at your best).
There was at least a half dozen people who noticed the message on the shirt. Suddenly something became more important than how I really felt. Christ’s name. I had to begin interacting with people akin to the image portrayed on that shirt. Was it hard? No, not really. I simply had to stop being lax of attitude, I had to slow down and show patience and kindness; I had to think about others. The couple of interactions I had before I left the store suggested I was able to meet the image I was portraying. On the way out of the mall I had another woman walk past and say, “I love Him, too!” I returned a smile. As I got in the car I admitted I had learned something. Apart from my acceptance of God’s grace gift, I’m just like everyone else. And that’s got to be okay.
Three responses I feel I get when I wear this shirt:
1. “Amen, brother.”
2. People notice what you’re wearing then watch you to see if Jesus is actually in you — anything from a joyful presence to perfection is expected.
3. “Whatever, probably a ‘hypocrite’ or ‘judgmental’ like other Christians.”
The point is, people take notice. They are watching. It’s the same with fish or Bible verse bumper stickers.
This experience proves a couple of things. Christians, like everyone else, have challenging emotions, and like everyone else, at times behave badly. Others have perceptions and expectations when Christians wear Christian apparel, and when we realise this we’re keen to challenge negative perceptions and meet positive expectations.
As Christians, we are not saved from behaving badly, but thankfully we want to glorify God, who alone is perfect.
* The T-shirt profiled is from the Garments of Praise range.