Two weeks ago, I sat in my classroom at church surrounded by my ever expanding little group of pre-teen girls and asked them if they've ever been embarrassed of being a Christian. "Be honest and put up your hand if you've ever felt embarrassed by loving Jesus." I said. No one met my eye. All hands stayed firmly clasped in their laps...until my hand went up. Slowly other hands began rising tentatively into the air until every hand in the room was up. "Good", I smiled at them, "I'm glad you are being honest. It's okay to feel like that sometimes, especially when we know that some people are going to treat us differently, maybe even badly because of our beliefs." I then asked the girls if anyone of them could give an example of a time when they had felt embarrassed. One in particular stayed with me. The girl who shared her story is not a Christian. She is so new and so fragile in her journey to faith. As she spoke to me, she tried to make it sound light, like it was no big deal, but her voice was higher and thinner than normal and her smile was forced. "I told my teacher that I come to BG Club, and that it's at church where we learn about God, and he laughed at me." Her eyes searched mine for an answer, something to bring comfort. That was when I realized I was standing there staring back at her with my mouth hanging open - not very supportive I guess-. I simply couldn't believe that a teacher would openly mock her beliefs. Boy, they wouldn't do that if she'd been going to a Muslim group, or a Jewish group..or just about any other faith.
I quickly recovered and offered a silent prayer to God for His wisdom. He led me to share a personal story with my group. About 5 years ago, I ordered a bunch of Christian T-shirts online. I was so excited when they came. I wore them to church and at home.....but that was it. It began to dawn on me that I only wore them to placed I knew they would be acceptable. I didn't wear them to the mall, to the gym, or even when I was grocery shopping...and I certainly wasn't going to wear them to my kid's school. I told myself as I chose my clothes each morning, they'd be too hot or not the right colour or fit, but I knew in the back of my mind the real reason. I was embarrassed. I didn't was to be labeled as a 'Jesus Freak'. I didn't want people to judge me and maybe even dislike me because of my relationship with Jesus. Once I faced the true reason for avoiding wearing those shirts, I had to wear them. I wore them everywhere. It was hard at first. I felt a little self conscious, but after a while I was proud to be thought of as a 'Jesus Freak'...after all that's what I am. I even had other Christians come up to me and say, "I like your shirt!"
I could see in the faces around the table that every single girl in there knew the kind of feelings I was talking abut. "But, what happens, when we die and get up to the gates of Heaven and for one second Jesus is as embarrassed of you as you were of Him?" Silence. "Were in big trouble." someone answered. We all smiled. It was true. We would be in big trouble.
We ended our lesson with this prayer, and it has become a daily prayer for me, "Dear Lord, Help me to care more about what YOU think of me today than anyone else."