My Facebook newsfeed is filled with little boutiques that are marketing to moms like me, basic church-going women with 2.5 kids and a dog and the proverbial white picket fence who want to look cute when they’re running errands. I’ve noticed a huge rise in tshirts with little saying for moms: #momlife, Running on Coffee and Dry Shampoo, Mama Bear, Messy Bun and Getting Stuff Done, Mommin’ Ain’t Easy.
You get the picture.
The stuff is cute and harmless and lets moms show a sense of humor about our day-to-day struggles in parenting. But, as this trend has caught on, it’s also produced a different kind of tshirt that is a symptom of some things that we really need to consider as Christians. There is another breed of mom shirt that goes more like this: I love Jesus (but I cuss a little), All I Need is Jesus with a side of Gangsta Rap, We pray on them Sundays, and we cuss on them Mondays.
These tshirts are adorably printed and at first glance may seem like a harmless way to point out that none of us is perfect. After all, admitting that we are sinners is an essential part of salvation and sanctification. We have to continually be mindful of our tendency to do what we shouldn’t–how else will we maintain a proper (humble) view of ourselves when compared to the perfection of Christ? But, I believe there is more to these shirts than a striving to stay humble.
Some years ago, a couple of buzzwords started cropping up in Christian circles. Transparency. Being real. No perfect people allowed. We were reacting against a stuffy church culture where Christians felt like they could never admit that they had failings and sin issues. We didn’t want a church life filled with a bunch of people who were pretending to be perfect. We wanted to feel free to open up to each other about our struggles, to lay our sin bare in order to better kill it. At least, I hope that’s what we were trying to do.
But, somewhere along the way, worldly wisdom crept in, as it often does, and we began to see our shortcomings as some kind of badge of honor. We actually began to take pride in our openness and in the very sins that are killing us. We laughed about our vices and joked about the things that were separating us from God. And, here we are, years later, and we don’t even realize that we are buying tshirts that advertise nothing more than a nominal Christian life. That is, Christian in name only. Not in true repentance or in heartbreak over our sin or in power or in truth. When we don’t even see the folly in wearing a shirt that speaks the precious name of Jesus in the same breath as a love for gangster rap.
I don’t know much about gangster rap, but according to the internet, here are a few things the genre promotes: crime, serial killing, murder, violence, profanity, sex addiction, homophobia, racism, promiscuity, misogyny, rape, street gangs, disorderly conduct, drive-by shootings, vandalism, thievery, driving under the influence, drug dealing, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, disregarding law enforcement, materialism, and narcissism.
I don’t see anything in there that should even remotely be linked to the Christian life, unless we’re talking about Jesus’ ability to rescue us from all of those things and more. Yet, sweet little mamas are buying these tshirts, not even understanding what they are saying about the Christian faith, about what it means to be a follower of Christ, about the true Christian’s serious call to holiness and godliness.
How can this be? Because we have allowed our faith to remain so intertwined with the world. We have said, Sure, I’ll take a little bit of Jesus, but I also want a little bit of cussing and a little bit of entertainment that is directly opposed to His word and a little bit of being okay with the sins that stand in the way of my growth and hurt my witness. After all, I don’t want to get too radical about this stuff. I’m not a weirdo.
And, slowly, slowly, with every little wordly decision that we make, we teach our kids and our mom friends and the lady at the grocery store that Christianity is just a little bit of a life change. Jesus only expects a little bit out of us. And, His power is only a little bit relevant to our day-to-day lives.
You may have one of these tshirts in your closet. I’m not condemning you for ordering a tshirt. It’s really not about the tshirt, you see? It’s so much deeper than that. It’s the fact that we have become so numb to the sick way that our world operates that we don’t even mind opening our hearts and minds to the sins that are destroying us this very minute. We are all infected with it–with a love for the things of this depraved world. But, the second we decide that killing the sin in our lives isn’t a priority, that’s the instant that we turn Christianity into a powerless, not-much-of-anything religion that is a little bit useful only when a crisis arises. This is not the abundant life Jesus promised. We are trading in the abundance of Christ for a cheap, faulty, wicked world.
And then we buy the tshirt.