It was lovely going through the Paul study with you over the past fortnight. Our final topic was that of bold speech in our homes, and we had some great comments there. Well, today I want to share a story along that same theme.
See this hooded sweatshirt with the words 'Jesus Freak' on it? Would you say it'd be a good idea to wear that at home with our spouses .... Or not?!
Most likely it depends on the spouse and where they are at.
Well, this hoodie and I have been on a little journey. A journey where I practiced boldness.
I mentioned in my last post that us SUMites get used to 'winning our spouse without words'. We learn to be loving and -- we hope -- winsome. That part is good. But then perhaps the next part is to learn to exercise our voice all over again, this time with care.
Many of us feel we've been knocked back verbally to such a degree that to talk about Jesus with our spouse is difficult. That's certainly how it is for me. With all that history it's not easy for me to stand up and articulate to my husband, 'This is how it is... This is who Jesus is ... This is what I stand for."
Well ... This year that situation has morphed a little in my marriage, and my new church seems to be playing a part. As many of you know, I began attending that church earlier this year and it's full of millennials. Not only that, but they are the most enthusiastic crowd of Jesus followers you could find.
As one of the older ones in the room, I watch them, mesmerized. Their gift is evangelism, which I learn from. Where I have grown weary from being knocked back by unbelievers, these young ones spur me on afresh.
One day I walked into church to see that these young leaders had made some special hooded sweatshirts. They were chocolate brown, with the words 'Jesus Freak' splashed across it. The pastor told me he wears this sweatshirt out on the street. I raised my eyebrows at that. New Zealand is not the place where that's easy to do. "You're brave and sold-out for Jesus. Good on you." I thought.
But that pastor's approach gave me pause for thought about my own faith life. "I've had enough of unbelief, and I'd like to be less silent," I concluded. And so I duly bought the sweatshirt, and on it went at home.
"Jesus Freak??" Exclaimed Bryce. "Um.... Is that not a bit weird?" He was probably hoping with every fibre of his being that I would not wear this thing out.
"Nope." I said, gently. "Personally I find the phrase ok. It's a bit of fun and Jesus is real, so hey..."
"But Ann ... If someone sees a Christian calling themselves that, won't it make the Christian look even weirder?"
"Look..." I said. "Society finds us unusual anyway, they dislike Jesus as it is, so what difference does it make? The fact is we are freakish to others: They used to throw us to the lions in Roman times."
Then I wandered off, to do some washing up and the usual Mum/wife bits and pieces. Wearing the hoodie, I left hubby to digest the fact that Christians like his wife were thrown to lions.
A day or so later, there I was in the confronting sweatshirt again and Bryce came up, ruffled my head, and smiled. "How's my little Jesus freak?" This time off he sauntered, non-plussed.
Did I do the right thing, or did I overstep it, I wonder? Well, it seemed strangely on point, so the sweatshirt has stayed a feature in our home - - Freakish as it is. I read a quote recently by a British evangelist's wife, Jean Rees, who said "An evangelist is one who precipitates a spiritual crisis in the life of another." Sometimes perhaps it's ok, then, to shake things up a little.
Every SUM is different. We go with the Holy Spirit as to what seems right for our particular spouse and where they're at. But I do hope this story gave you a smile today.
Let's carry on the conversation about bold speech in the comments, I would love to chat more about this one with you!