Football Jerseys & Showing Jesus

Football season has begun, and I feel like I can watch ESPN again.  No more boring stories about basketball, hockey and (yawn) soccer.  I am still hanging with baseball because the Cubs are winning and it's almost October.  

But it's football season, which brings a tremendous amount of joy to the people in my house, and it also means I can wear my team gear as much as possible.  I'm well into the double digits when it comes to football jerseys, and I've got more than my fair share of other kinds of team wear.  

My whole family gets in on this.  

I sent my six year-old to school today in his Peyton Manning football jersey.  My middle son Jackson has about three or four jerseys for both the Broncos and Seminoles, and my oldest boy has a few here and there that he wears to anger his friends who are Carolina Panther fans.  

Oh, and I bought Merideth two Broncos jerseys, too (but they're kind of small, and kind of sexy so she only wears them 'at home').  

The other day I was all decked out in my Florida State Seminoles gear when I went to the store.  I was wearing it proudly because the 'Noles had a big comeback win on national television just a few days before.  Every other person I encountered it nodded at me when I went by and said, "Go 'Noles!"  

I didn't know these people.  I had no idea what they did for a living or whether they were a jerk or not.  I had no clue if we had anything else in common except our mutual admiration for the Seminoles.  But in those moments, we were connected.  We knew we were part of the same tribe.  

I have often thought about how easily we don the colors of our respective tribes--our  favorite teams, or our alma maters, for example. We put these on to identify ourselves, as a point of pride and perhaps a way to connect with others who share those colors. 

But when it comes to identifying ourselves as followers of Jesus, we have a more difficult time figuring out how to do that well.  It's a lot easier to know what we don't want to look like, isn't it?  

We all know the people who plaster their car with corny religious bumper stickers, or who seemingly wear nothing but "Christian" tee shirts and hats.  Or incessantly post Christian-y posts on Facebook.  And so, in order to avoid being lumped in with the "overly-Christian" folk, we do our best to just "act natural."  

Jesus told his disciples something profound that speaks right into this.  He said, "Let your light so shine before others that they will see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16)  

In other words, you don't need a shirt or a bumper sticker to let everyone know you are a Christian.  In fact, that's probably the worst thing you can do at times.  According to Jesus, you will demonstrate you are part of the tribe when you shine your light, when you show Jesus to the world in such a way that people encounter you and say, "I want what they have."  

May you demonstrate your allegiance to Jesus today by your words and your deeds.  May your light shine in the darkness, giving hope to all who gather around it for illumination.  May you show Jesus to the world without having to say a word.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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