I’ve written about it a few times in the last couple of weeks because it is something that is completely changing the way I look at the world. It’s something that I’ve actually known for a long time, but my perspective is changing. In other words, it is becoming more real to me than ever before. Instead of just “head knowledge”, I am starting to see real world application for my own life…and it’s a game changer.
I’m talking about our current sermon series that we are going through at Central Christian Church. I wrote yesterday in part about the idea that you never learn more than when you are actively trying to teach something to someone (read that here). And that is what is happening to me right now. We are going through this series that I pray will be a game changer in the lives of our faith family, but it is definitely changing me. It’s called Life on Mission (based off of the book Life on Mission by Tim Harlow) and you can check out recordings of this series here if you’d like.
The basics of the series up to this point is this; if you are a Christ follower, you have a mission of sharing Jesus with others, that should be done by building relationships with new people (having a meal with someone new is a great start), finding a way to serve those people (because you truly care about them and they are not just a project to you), and then, once you’ve built that relationship, start sharing your story of how Jesus has impacted your life. That’s where we’ve gone so far with two more sermons to wrap it up.
I want to try to live out what I have been teaching/preaching, and am actively trying to figure out ways to start getting to know people in my neighborhood that might not know Jesus yet. As a preacher, I am generally around Christians for the most part, so I have to put effort into finding non-Christians to interact with.
I did something yesterday that reminded me that I already have the beginnings of friendships/relationships with people outside of my normal sphere of influence that I didn’t even think about. I got a tattoo to help represent what I am all about and what I call myself. You realize my nickname on here; Crosseyed Jesus Freak. Well, I finally got “Jesus Freak” tattooed on me. Actually, I am surprised that I didn’t get this one earlier. “Jesus Freak” by dc Talk has had a huge impact on my life and how I want to show my faith to the world, so it is a natural idea to me to have it in my tattoo collection.
Here is the chorus of the song, and why it means so much to me:
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
The truth for me is that I love God with all of my heart. There may be days that I don’t live up to that, but Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. And because of that, you can label me whatever you would like. I don’t care what other people think of me in the sense that I try to follow Jesus. Now what that doesn’t mean is that I am just going out there trying to ram Jesus down other people’s throats. That isn’t what Jesus would want. Again it is about building relationships and then presenting how Jesus has changed your life, not standing on the street corner yelling at people.
So why the color scheme that you see in the picture? That’s another reference to the song itself. Here’s another part of the song:
I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
‘Cause I had to match the rhythm
Of his belly with my head
“Jesus Saves” is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And claimed he had a dream
The reference of the “typical tattoo green” led me to want the green color scheme. When I told the tattoo artist about it, he came up with the idea to do the black outline and then start with the dark green (typical, old-school tattoo color) and fade it into the bright green on top. That sounded awesome to me, and we went with it.
Enough about the actual tattoo. And if you don’t agree with getting tattoos, that’s great. We don’t have to agree on it because it is a personal decision in my opinion. But the reason I am writing about this experience is it ties in with Life on Mission. You see, this isn’t the first one I’ve gotten from Robby. He did my 1-1-Six tattoo that I got a little over a year ago, and a former apprentice of his did an ichthus (Jesus fish) and cross for me a few months ago as well.
In other words, I have started building a relationship with Robby. He grew up with a Catholic background, but I think he would tell you straight up that he is not a Christian. There is always loud rock, hip hop, or a combination of both pumping through his shop. It’s filled with profanity. In fact, when I sat down in the chair yesterday, he looked at me and apologized for the music and I reminded him that it wasn’t an issue for me.
Do I like the music? Not particularly. Does the profanity match what I consider to be good language? Absolutely not. But like I explained to Robby the first time, and reminded him last night, I don’t expect him to follow Christian morals when he doesn’t claim to be a Christ follower. If I did that, and caused tension as a result, I would never get the chance to meaningfully present Jesus to Robby at some point. He knows what my life is all about, but we aren’t to the point where I can really present Jesus in that meaningful way yet. I don’t want to do anything at this point to cause that to never be an option.
So we talked music, movies, and other general entertainment as he worked, just continuing to get to know each other a little bit. Do we have a lot of the same interests? I wouldn’t say a lot, but we have some bands in common (he actually knows of Skillet and some other Christian groups). We’ve gotten to the point that he values me as a repeat customer (in fact, he gave me a great deal on this piece), and we respect each other.
Through all of this, I’ve been able to just get to know someone that is very different than I am, and different than most people that I get to interact with on a regular basis. I pray that one day I am able to share my complete story with Robby, showing him what Jesus has done in my life, and that he sees what a life with Jesus could actually be in his own.
My point, however, is this. Do you know people that are a lot different than you? I’m sure we all can think of someone. Do you just immediately write them off (judge them because they are different), or do you look for ways to get to know them, build a relationship with them? There is a lot of arguing and tension in the world today. If you are a Christ follower, how can you live on mission and share Christ if you are constantly arguing with those that don’t know Him yet? Like I said to Robby last night, just because I don’t agree with or like something that someone else does doesn’t mean that I can’t be civil with them. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that I can’t build a friendship with them.
Paul writes in Romans 12 that if possible, when it depends on us, we are to live at peace with everyone. You can read the full text here. What are you doing to actively live on mission?