Would Jesus Really Wear a T-Shirt That Promoted a Cause And That “Bragged” About His Participation? Maybe … – The Inconsistencies and Virtues of the Missional Life – Post 3

Is wearing a T-Shirt from a non-profit really helping? And if so, who is it helping? The ones in need, the organization, the wearer of the shirt, all the above, none of the above, A and B but not C? This leads to another important question, “Are we just bragging about how wonderful we are when we wear our To Write Love On Her Arms and Invisible Children T-shirts?”

I know these types of posts drive some people crazy but I also know others who wonder similar things. And now just having relocated and figuring out a new life rhythm, we are in a season of deconstruction (and reconstruction). I share the conviction that putting thought in how we live leads to a better life. And though there is wisdom in not over-analyzing everything, I do lean towards Socrates’ idea of the unexamined life is not worth living.

So I am wondering is “mercy-wear” or “missional-wear” the same as the Pharisee standing in the street self-righteously proclaiming how wonderful he is?
Doesn’t Jesus say, when you pray, go into your “closet” and don’t put on a show?
Doesn’t He say the same about giving?
But Jesus had a very public ministry that not only included teaching, praying in public but also included some very public miracles … on the Sabbath no less (for those that unfamiliar with Jewish culture, the Sabbath was a day of rest and doing work on it was a big No-No.) Why didn’t Jesus simply wait another day and why did He do all these things so publicly?

Would Jesus have walked around in a To Write Love On Her Arms shirt? Maybe.
How about a harder one – Would Jesus have walked around in a shirt that said, “I Give Sight to the Blind”. I know it sounds audacious and I am aware of passages like Matthew 9 (where he heals two blind man and instructs them to tell no one) but there are so many public miracles, I cannot hastily say “No, He just wouldn’t do that.”  While it’s hard to imagine it, I’m not sure what the difference really is, especially in today’s context.

It’s easier for me to think He would have worn shirts from Living Water International or Hello Somebody or the American Leper Cancer Society, or even the Iranian Cancer Society and just because I can’t imagine it, He probably would have worn a bright shirt that said “Abercrombie & Fitch” blazed in huge letters right across the front of it. I know it seems so “not like Him” but that’s what makes Him, Him. Now I’ll agree that A&F comparison isn’t quite accurate but it is odd for me to picture and thus helpful.

I realize there is a connection between this and the new classic – “Would Jesus have used social media and what would He proclaiming?” Which in so many ways, is another type of t-shirt we wear.

Which brings up, if a little sharing is good, then why not a lot of sharing? Why not during next week’s offering invite everyone to shout the amount of their checks they are dropping into the offering plate? “50 Bucks for the Kingdom of Jesus!” “FIVE dollars … and I am unemployed people – that’s like the widow’s mite!” Then someone slowly gets up, and dramatically announces that this week the Lord has been good to them – $HUGE.” The church bursts into applause and the band strikes up the doxology. While I would like to see this in a satire movie like Saved!, this would be a nightmare. So why am I ok with wearing hoodies that more or less say, “I gave money to this cause” and implying that Jesus might be too?

I’ve been mostly encouraged by the generosity of others. I find community in it. Or to put in another way, I used to get so excited when I saw someone wearing a Yankees hat, now I get excited when I see someone that is passionate about social justice on their Twitter profile. I’ve seen this in my own life too – Just about every time I wear an Invisible Children shirt, someone high fives me or asks about it and I have a conversation that I may not have otherwise had.

Where I am landing is that I want to promote the causes that are close to me. You should consider doing the same. If we keep our self-righteous egos and prideful messiah-complexes in check, we can help bring good things to the world and many of them being in the hope and way of Jesus.


  1. …still trying to entertain myself while the football game rages on…

    I once had a tshirt from one of my favorite indie Christian musicians that said “They will know we are Christians by our t-shirts”. Heh.

    Very much agree with the post conclusion. From a Nonprofit Management perspective, if you are wearing my hypothetical organization’s t-shirt you a a walking billboard. In addition to whatever monetary contribution you made to purchase that item, you are now free advertising every time you put it on- hopefully spreading my organization’s name and mission and generating interest. That may sound a little sketchy cause I know we don’t like to talk about charitable organizations using business lingo- but really I think it’s a great way to multiply your impact in a simple, cost effective way.

    Of course along with that goes the hope that you actually know and care about what my hypothetical organization does and aren’t just trying to look cool in front of your Christian hipster friends.

Speak Your Mind