Thursday, February 26, 2009

T-Shirts

I've had a few conversations lately with a variety of people, all centering around the same topic: Christianity. If you know me very long at all, you will come to find out that I can't stand the way that 'Christian' has become a term that doesn't define who one is, but IS defined by a certain Americanized stereotype-a stereotype that, sadly, is usually not far from the truth.

While I learned a lot growing up and many of my experiences have shaped the way I view things now, there were many things that churches I attended and Christians I looked up to took part in that, looking back, were as far from 'Christian' as I want to be. Things like getting into theological debates with people on the streets of Chicago because we were 'practicing witnessing' while at a summer camp, or standing on a bridge holding signs saying things like 'Abortion is Murder'. When I think about how those people must have responded-how I would have responded-in those situations, it basically comes down to "Screw you."

I'm not saying that I don't stand up for my beliefs, or share those with others, but I think there is a right and wrong way to go about it, and the previously mentioned tactics would go under the 'wrong' category. Jesus Himself spent lots of time with those He ministered to, getting to know them and where they were in life, practically SHOWING the message He was preaching. I think meeting someone's need, such as bringing them food when their husband was laid off, shows Christ's love, rather than saying, "You're a sinner, you need Jesus." Yes, they need Jesus, but right then, they need food.

It's like if I knew a friend was looking for a dining room table (OK, this is on a MUCH smaller scale, but go with it), and I found a great deal on one that was great quality I knew they would like. I would share with them what I had found because I knew from my own experience how it could meet their need, not because they were a random person on the street and I said "Hey, there's a table inside, it's cheap, you should buy it right now!" Same thing with the gospel. If I share it with you, I want it to be because of the impact it's had on my life, and I can see how it's going to truly impact yours, not because I think I'm right and you're wrong.

All of that can be summed up in this one amazing song by Derek Webb. If you don't know him, you should look him up: he's satirical, ironic, sarcastic, but most of all....honest. Enjoy.

T-Shirts
they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they'll know us by the way we point and stare
at anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare

they’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
they’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
like anyone on earth is living right
and isn’t that why Jesus died
not to make us think we’re right

chorus
when love, love, love
is what we should be known for
love, love, love
it’s the how and it’s the why
we live and breathe and we die

they’ll know us by reasons we divide
and how we can’t seem to unify
because we’ve gotta sing songs a certain style
or we’ll walk right down that aisle
and just leave ‘em all behind

they’ll know us by the billboards that we make
just turning God’s words to cheap clich├ęs
says “what part of murder don’t you understand?”
but we hate our fellow man
and point a finger at his grave

chorus
they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
they'll know us by the way we point and stare
telling ‘em their sins are worse than ours
thinking we can hide our scars '
beneath these t-shirts that we wear

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