Friday, October 4, 2013

Rocking the Christian Shirt

When I was a tween and young teenager, I was all about wearing Christian things.  I had a cross necklace, a Fear Not shirt, and a WWJD bracelet (I guess that dates me!).  As I got older, I started to become more uncomfortable wearing these symbols publicly.  I felt like people who saw me should see Christ in my actions, not in my clothes.  I also felt pretentious.  I didn't want to be viewed as the kind of Christian who would wear a Jesus shirt just to show off.  And of course, there was always the fear that I would act a fool while wearing a cross and give God a bad name. So I put my cross away.

As time went on, I became more and more uncomfortable with symbols.  I didn't want a "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" sign over my front door.  I cringed to see Jesus fish (and all their many incarnations) on cars.  If I had my Bible with me, I hid it.  I wasn't ashamed to be a Christian, but I feared what the symbols of Christianity said about me.  

Lately as I've read my Bible, I've come the realization that God loves symbols.  The Word is full of them!  The first one we encounter is one that God gave to us.  The rainbow is symbol of his promise never to destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9).  God gave other symbols that he expected men to carry out. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant between God and his people the Israelites (Genesis 17).  

In addition to symbols of promise, there are symbols in the Bible to remind the people of Israel of God's great works.  When the people crossed the Jordan river, God commanded them to take up twelve stones to be a reminder to them and to their children that He had heaped up the waters of the Jordan for them (Joshua 4).  When the Israelites defeated the Philistines on the plains of Mizpah, Samuel set up a stone called Ebenezer to remind the people of God's help in battle (1 Samuel 7).

Perhaps the greatest symbol in the Old Testament was the feast of Passover.  All parts of the feast would remind the children of Israel of God's great work in delivering from the Egyptians.  The lamb would remind them of the lamb that had to be killed for it's blood to save their children. The bread was unleavened because the people left in haste; they did not have time for their bread to rise.  The bitter herbs helped remind them of the bitterness of their bondage. 

Of course, the feast of Passover was replaced for us by another symbol, that of the Lord's supper.  Each week, we are reminded of the sacrifice that Jesus made.  When I take of the bread and cup, I dwell on what Jesus suffered for the sole reason that he wanted to be with me forever.

What do all these symbols have in common?  They are all reminders.  God set his rainbow in the sky to remind us of his promise.  The Israelites set up the stones so they would always remember God's help. We partake of the Lord's supper in remembrance of Him.  Symbols were never meant to be put on display to bring glory to us.  Symbols are reminders to us of God's power, his grace, and his working on our lives.

We aren't commanded to wear Christian garb or have signs in our house, so I would never fault someone for choosing not to have them. However, I think we can choose to use those things if our hearts are in the right place.  If having a sign about serving the Lord in my house will help me to remember to use my time in my home wisely, maybe it's a sign I would benefit from having.  If a Christian t-shirt helps me to remember that I am an ambassador for Christ and that I need to act like one, maybe I should buy one. Not to show others how good I am, but to remind myself how good God is.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
After I wrote this article, I remembered that some friends of mine are starting a company that makes Christian t-shirts.  Here is a link to their website and their facebook page. They have a giveaway going on now if they can get 200 likes on their page. The shirt pictured above is from their etsy shop. 

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