A few years ago, a friend bought me a tee shirt for my birthday that read, “You Need Jesus. I’m Just Saying.” Since that was one of my favorite sayings, I couldn’t wait to wear it.
But then I got nervous. Nervous that people who saw me wearing it might think I was a hypocrite. What if I slipped up in a moment of frustration and said a cuss word? (Not that that’s ever happened before.) What if I messed something up and misrepresented Jesus somehow, some way, while proudly displaying the fact they needed to know Jesus?
So … I gave it away.
I’ve been pretty adamant since then about keeping the Christian bumper stickers off my car. (It’s possible I have a lead foot, but don’t tell my mom.) I’ve been cut off in traffic by that person. You know, the one whose back bumper sticker reads “Honk if you love Jesus.” So I honk … but for a completely different reason.
For the last several years, I’ve been completely turned off by the Jesus-loving, Scripture-representing tee shirts and bumper stickers.
Until now …
I have a friend whose closet is full of that kind of shirt. Seriously, I have to lock her in the car when we go to Lifeway, or she’d buy one of each. But in the last few months, she has completely changed my perspective. She’s unknowingly pointed out that even though I didn’t want to wear the Christian tees because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite — I was still being a hypocritical jerky jerk because I was judging those who did!
She’s been struggling through a hard season of life lately. And many times, in the midst of our struggles, the devil is doing everything he can to fill our heads with lies. So in the midst of her spiritual fight, the big, fat liar himself convinced her she wasn’t deserving enough to wear those shirts.
While walking through this hard season with her, I realized something. She didn’t wear those shirts because she wanted to “preach to the world.” She wore them because she wanted to be bathed in the love of God, literally wrapped in His Word. It wasn’t about others, it was about her … and Jesus. As my heart was breaking for her struggles, I was so angry at the author of shame for keeping her from wearing them.
But let me tell you something about my faith-filled, Jesus-loving friend. Though she thought she was just wearing those shirts for herself, she was wrong. Working in customer service, she meets people all day long. Not only did she greet them with a smile, she was presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person she came in contact with. Every. Single. Person.
Something as simple as a tee shirt was changing lives, and she didn’t even know it. People started noticing she wasn’t wearing them anymore, and the questions came. What happened to the Scripture shirts?
I have to admit I didn’t notice either, until she stopped wearing them. I was reminded that even I, the hypocritical hater of this very thing, felt a sense of safety being around her, knowing she was wrapped in God’s Word. Who knew something that seems so small can make such a difference in the lives of so many? Even in the midst of her struggles, a community has been changed by her love for Jesus. My friends, that’s the power of Jesus.
Satan tried to tell her she wasn’t worthy enough to represent Jesus in such a way. Oh … but the real truth? She needed to wear those shirts more than ever. She needed God to be near her in every capacity, including a tee shirt which may seem simple to some, but profoundly powerful to her. She literally needed to be clothed in righteousness.
When you build deep friendships with others, it’s easy to sense when something is off. I woke up one particular morning knowing that my friend was hurting — knowing that she was under attack. So I texted her some encouragement.
“If all you can do today is say Jesus’ name, say it. If you can’t do that, write it. Put a Scripture shirt on and wear it. You need His Word on you. You’re in a battle, my friend, and the devil will not win!”
She did. And she still is. She is still battling, but she’s doing it dressed in the armor of God — His Word — in the form of a bright pink Scripture-filled tee shirt. And my heart is cleaner and a little less judgmental of the bumper-sticker guy who cut me off in traffic.
Wear the tee shirt, even if you’re afraid you might slip up and say something you’re not supposed to. Put the bumper sticker on your car, even if you have a little case of road rage. You’re not a hypocrite. You’re human. With struggles and good days and bad days. But you’re still a child of God, who desires to clothe you in righteousness.
Maybe next time you see me, if my lead foot isn’t taking over, I’ll wave with a smile and remind you in a bright blue shirt, “You Need Jesus. I’m Just Saying.”