Christmas Cards, Goth, and God

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”   –  John 3:17

A few decades ago (!) I found some unique “Christmas cards” that I couldn’t resist.
The front did not look like a Christmas card, but had a photo of four teenagers that could be described as “alternative.” Dressed in black from head to toe, they had spiked hair, tattoos, piercings, and angry, rebellious expressions on their faces. Inside it simply said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – John 3:17

The feedback I got  was pretty consistent. Friends told me that their first reaction was “Wha — ???” They wondered what in the world I was thinking. Was this a joke? Then as they opened it,  the light came on. Of course. Jesus came for everyone, including (especially?) these lost souls. One friend said the card had given her a gentle rebuke from the Lord.

I am as guilty as the next person of thinking in stereotypes. I make comparisons, often based on my own insecurities. It doesn’t take much for me to feel inferior, whether it’s another woman who’s stylishly dressed with perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect nails, and (I assume) perfect everything else – or someone who looks as though she devotes little or not time to her looks and somehow tumbles out of bed just looking naturally cool. I am repeatedly reminding myself that when I make comparisons or assumptions, I could miss out on something special.

One of my daughter Joanna’s best friends in high school was a Christian girl who did not fit the usual image of a “Christian girl.” With her black lipstick and nail polish, black clothes, and unconventional haircut, she looked more like the kids on the Christmas card. I was proud that my daughter had taken the time to get to know her, and learned that this “look” was actually a strategy for reaching out to kids that most church people would avoid – and vise versa. Joanna thought this was pretty cool. I did, too.

I offered to take the girls to the mall one day, since they really wanted to go, and neither of them was driving yet. (Besides, I liked them.) As we were walking through the mall together, Joanna’s friend gave me an odd look.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

“You’re walking with us,” she said. Suddenly I felt extremely “un-cool.” I was cramping their style!

“– I’m sorry! Would you like me to leave you two alone?”

“Oh no!” she hastily reassured me. “It’s just that my mom usually walks behind me and pretends she doesn’t know me.” She smirked. I laughed, realizing that her mom was one of those “together” people I had always felt inferior to. I could tell by the look on Joanna’s face that this time I was the cool mom, and I proudly continued walking with them.

Have you ever seen someone who is different from you and assumed they wouldn’t be interested in you or anything you have to offer? DON’T ASSUME! Prayerfully consider how you might approach that individual with the gospel – or just a friendly exchange. You might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get from someone who may have done some assuming of his own. The mutual “pleasant surprise” might affect the people around you, too. How often do you see a “cool” teen interacting with an elderly person in public? Or a preppy kid sharing a laugh with a kid dressed in an “artsy” style? How often do you see a pastor reaching out to an alcoholic on the street, or a churchy lady expressing love for a woman employed in the “adult entertainment” industry? Would such a sight make you curious about what they’re talking about? Some of my most amazing encounters have happened at a gay pride parade, a cancer ward, or a soup kitchen.

DON’T LIIMIT GOD! Ask Him to send you where He wants you to go, and watch for His hand at work in your life. And don’t worry about what you’ll say, He has told us not to.

” … don’t worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given to you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Hoy Spirit.”   Mark 13:11

Prayer: Father in Heaven, who gave Your only begotten Son to save all of us, help us not to try to put limits on Your power. If we have put You in a box in our minds, help us to open the box and give You full reign in our lives. Send us where You want us to go. May we encounter the people You want us to interact with, today and every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

31 thoughts on “Christmas Cards, Goth, and God

  1. Amen to your prayer and Amen to this post.

    Of all the people in the Bible, the one I most closely identify with is the Samaritan woman at the well. For much of my life, I hated myself and assumed that God, if He existed, hated me too. Praise God for His Amazing Grace. Praise God for His Love. Praise God for John 3:16. I’m a ‘whosoever’!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful. It reminds me of the verse: “Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.” Yes, Jesus came for ALL of us, and loves ALL of us equally – and unconditionally. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Amen, Anne. Do you think it is possible that the harder we have to work to get past an initial, negative impression, the more open we might be to see God’s hand at work in the other person’s life? Something to ponder…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is awesome, always love your posts. This reminds me a few years ago evangelizing on college campuses we had the atheist and LGBTQIA student group coming over to my evangelism table to troll us and we had this guy that looked like a bearded hippy listening in and then when he spoke we all realized he was a Christian and everyone took a double take including the atheists and LGBTQIA. I guess even the nonbelievers were surprised that he was a Christian! God saves all kinds of people! That guy later became a good friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVE the Christmas card story! 🙂

    I sometimes think I know the kind of people God wants me to reach out to, just to discover that he had someone else in mind.

    Or, I’m determined NOT to be a part of certain people’s lives, just to have them seamlessly insert themselves into my life in delightfully surprising God-ways. LOL.

    You’re right: You can’t limit God.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Don’t limit God.” How very thought-provoking. I’m proud to say that it was drilled into me from a young age to approach people from different walks of life in the same manner, which is why I don’t block someone out just because they were specific clothes. People dress the way they do for a variety of reasons, as you nicely illustrated with your daughter’s friend. I chuckled when I read that you went from feeling “uncool” to cool so quickly while walking with them at the mall. Sounds like that kid was special. I haven’t heard many willingly agree to walk around with those uncool adults.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, I haven’t heard that she passed away or anything, Goldie. Sorry it came out that way. I’m just a little OCD with my statements, and since I haven’t seen her in a number of decades, I can’t say for sure. But I want to assume that she’s still a remarkable … middle aged lady. 😉

    Like

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