I don’t do it very often, but when I do, it usually yields predictable results.
Yesterday, I put on some black pants, a white shirt and tie, and over the shirt and tie, I donned my crimson-red Montreal Canadiens jersey.
Why yesterday? Because on Wednesday night, the Habs played their 100th home opener, and won (in a shootout, but it was still a win). Wearing my jersey was a way of celebrating what My Team accomplished.
Now, such an act is a way of taking my life into my hands here in Leafs Nation. But in a society whose hallmark is tolerance, I should be able to show my true colours without fear of stigma or retribution, right?
I suppose it would depend on where I chose to hang around. Here at the Canadian Bible Society, I’m among friends; they understand when I commit (in their minds) such irrational acts. What if I loitered around the Air Canada Centre? I might not be extended quite the same leeway on my dress code downtown.
Still, we think, this is about hockey. It’s not a life-and-death matter.
As followers of Christ, when it comes to faith, it is a life-and-death matter. The merely religious might treat faith as they might treat politics – something not to be discussed in polite company. But people who are Christ-centred have an inner compulsion from the Holy Spirit that makes us wear our faith like a hockey jersey!
We run into two problems with this reality in our society. First, we have those who not only wear their faith like a hockey jersey, they put bright, flashing lights on it and insist that everyone around them wear it (in exactly the same size). The other problem comes from those who have their jersey on, but they do everything in their power to cover it up, almost as if they are ashamed or embarrassed by it.
Neither of those extremes helps convince people that they should cheer for our team (and I mean spiritually). Faith worn proudly, confidently, and humbly – that has a much better shot at encouraging people not only to cheer for our team, but to be on our team.
Let’s face it: if I act like a complete idiot, and people see the jersey I’m wearing, they won’t want to be Habs fans. What’s worse, given human nature, they’ll probably assume that all fans of the Canadiens are complete idiots.
If you think this is a stretch, let me tell you that I know a good number of people who have had one – one! – bad experience with someone who claimed to be a follower of Christ, and they have decided that they will never be a Christian, or have dealings with Christians, ever again. That’s both sad and pathetic, especially since we all make mistakes, and tarring everybody with the same brush is not acceptable in other areas of life!
What am I getting at? Wear your faith openly – proudly, confidently, humbly – and live it out, measuring daily growth in your relationship with Jesus. And to be encouraged in so doing, find a mentor in Christ – someone who is growing, and can walk with you along the oftentimes bumpy journey toward maturity in faith. The apostle Paul encouraged the Philippians to see him as their mentor: “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example” (Philippians 3.17, NLT). Paul had the confidence in faith to draw people near him and to have them follow after his example. Ask yourself, “Who could be my mentor? After whose example could I follow Christ? Who’s wearing the Christian jersey well?”