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JR. Forasteros - September 17, 2017
From Series: "Empathy for the Devil"
We don't give the people we consider villains a second thought. They were born rotten, destined for evil from day one. But if we take another look at some of the most infamous villains of all time, we may find they're more human than we thought. We may see ourselves in their reflection. We might find we're walking the path of villainy - and once we see that, we can turn toward God's life!
More From "Empathy for the Devil"
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I got in trouble in high school for wearing a Christian t-shirt. I was raised in Church, and I took a peculiar kind of pride in my Christian status. I had a whole collection of t-shirts that loudly proclaimed to everyone that I was a Christian. My favorite was one that said in big, bold letters on the front “DON’T FIGHT NAKED”. Then on the back, it had a cartoon of a person in full Roman armor and said, “Put on the full armor of God”.
I went to high school in the late 90s, at the height of the Co-Ed Naked trend. If you’re old enough, you no doubt remember those shirts. They featured all kinds of sports – Co-Ed Naked football, soccer, pool, etc. And they all featured a tagline that was heavy in sexual innuendo. Of course those shirts were not allowed at our high school.
But one day, when I was wearing my “Don’t Fight Naked” shirt, one of my teachers caught me in the hall and made me turn my sweet Christian shirt inside out (the punishment for wearing an inappropriate shirt). She said, “This isn’t because it’s a Christian shirt. The other teachers and I talked it over and we agreed if you can’t have co-ed naked, you can’t have naked God.”
At the time, I was sure I was enduring religious persecution. But looking back, I realized she was right.
The way I was being a Christian didn’t make me particularly different from the rest of my school.
I was treating my faith essentially as one more branding option. Other kids wore the swoosh or Mossimo or Starter jackets (late 90s, remember!) or Co-Ed Naked. And I wore Jesus.
This branded Christianity didn’t transform me. I didn’t have a fundamentally different character because of those T-shirts. I certainly wasn’t winning friends to the faith. I was just another brand.
I want to talk today about what it means to be holy – to be the people of God in the world. Too often, we treat Christianity as just another brand. Another political view. One more good option in a sea of possible ways to be human.
Too often we have a faith that is superficially different from the rest of the world, but at its core is just another brand.
But the faith God calls us to is something essentially different from the world – that’s what the word ‘holy’ really means. And when we allow God to make us holy, we’re not a source of judgment and condemnation for the rest of the world (which is how we usually think of it – no one wants to be a holy roller, I think). Rather, when God transforms us, we become an invitation to life for the whole world.