I am in Vail, CO this week with my wife hanging out at the Acts 29 retreat. It is a great week, and we are having a wonderful time. On the way in, we stopped in Denver, and I picked up a Colorado Rockies jersey t-shirt. As a sports guy, I like this sort of souvenir better than a “I went to Colorado, and all I got was this stinkin’ t-shirt” shirt. So I wore the shirt today, of course with my St. Louis Cardinal hat. Now, some of you may think this is a fashion mistake, a bit like wearing white after Labor Day, or matching stripes and plaids. But I didn’t think much about the mixing of teams until I got to the retreat this morning.
In the span of just a few minutes, I had a couple people mention my fashion ensemble. Darrin Patrick, a St. Louis friend and pastor of the Journey Church just shook his head and told me how disappointed he was in me, wearing a different team’s colors. Another guy asked me if I was a Rockies fan who had bought a Cardinal hat or a Cardinal fan who bought a Rockies shirt. I never thought that wearing my new purple souvenir shirt would lead to so much conflicted messages.
Actually, it should not be that hard. To figure out a guys loyalty, check the hat. T-shirts come and go, but a guys hat will show his true allegiance.
Still, all this got me thinking about life and the Gospel. I actually believe this is how many people wear their faith in Jesus. Some put on their faith like a souvenir baseball jersey, although their deep allegiance is to other gods. The hat and the shirt are actually in conflict, but they wear faith as a bit of a fashion statement. People look at the shirt, and realize the faith they put on does not jive with the lifestyle hat they wear. Others seek to have allegiance to Christ, wearing the Christian hat (OK, so it is a bit hokey, but stay with me), but the attitudes and actions of life are in conflict with the hat, and people see the outfit and can’t quite understand why a person is wearing stuff from both teams.
One of the reasons the world does not see Christ in us is that too often most of us are wearing the hat of one team and the jersey of the other. The Gospel is a call to complete surrender to the call of Jesus and faith in Him, leaving all other allegiances behind. Jesus said it like this, “Whoever loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus uses some of the closest of human relationships as a comparison. Love for mom and dad, or the kids should pale in comparison to love for Jesus. Only this type of surrendered faith in Jesus will truly transform. And only this level of love will leave people wondering why.
I am a Cardinal fan, and will continue to wear the hat proudly. And no way I am buying a Rockies hat. But I will wear the shirt on occasion. I just pray that my stated allegiance to Jesus and the life I live resolve much better than the purple shirt with the red and white hat.