What’s on your T-shirt?

Published 5:21 pm Friday, July 26, 2019

By Nathan Decker

A shirt’s just not a shirt. It’s the experience of what goes into that shirt.”

– Michael Bastian, American Designer

“Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.” I first heard this phrase back in 1997. We had just come back to the college campus from a Baptist Student Union Spring Break Mission Trip to Maine. We all were wearing the T-shirts we had gotten on the trip. They were given to us as keepsakes, recognition of our service, and as advertisement for the next year’s trip. I think they said something like “Baptist Student Union, without U we are just BS.”

I can’t tell you the number of T-shirts I’ve gotten as a pastor, runner and odd human being. I love T-shirts because when I wear them, I am me. I am comfortable and casual. Most of my favorite shirts have come from the churches I have served and the runs I have run. I have one from Missouri that reads “nothing tips like a cow,” and yes, there are memories attached to that phrase. T-shirts are not just relaxed attire; they speak of memories and adventures to everyone around you.

The other day I was with a group of friends when someone said something profound. One of my friends responded by saying, “That’s what I want on my T-shirt!” I’ve been thinking about that ever since. What am I remembering? What am I broadcasting proudly on my chest?

The Christian faith is an adventure in hearing Good News, learning love, and serving in God’s Kingdom. As Christians we are called to ‘put on Christ’ in our baptism. Christ is our uniform we wear to practice and live out what we believe. We wear our faith in remembrance of what God has done for us in salvation and as a witness to share the core values our faith teaches. When I first got to High Street UMC, we had shirts made up that said “I love my church.” Another year we created what has become our theme, “We are better together.” Both of these phrases say a huge deal about how we practice our love to God and one another.

Some folks may counter that what I’m talking about is an inward spiritual thing. I disagree. True faith is not what we believe; it is what we show and tell. Our spiritual T-shirt is clearly visible. I know what I want my spiritual T-shirt to say. I want to tell the world that courage matters, love wins and a questioning faith is the only living faith. Most of all, I want people to know Jesus loves them.

What message does your spiritual shirt share? Take some time to put on the various patches and iron on logos of your experiences with God. Remember what God has done for you and what God is doing through you. Put on the armor of God from Ephesians. Make sure to wear the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians. Don’t forget what Colossians says about the garment of love. Sew how you have found and continue to find God’s salvation into your shirt. And then wear it proudly. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and forget about satisfying your sinful self.”

– Romans 13:14