Covered with Shame

Recently a man was refused entry to a Qantas flight to London because he was wearing a T-Shirt that said “World’s No. 1 Terrorist” and included a picture of George Bush. (If you’re interested you can find the story here.
When the revolution comes, we will definitely be announcing it through T-Shirts…

The truth is, that when people have something to say, they often do say it with a T-Shirt. I can’t think the number of different T-Shirts I have worn for Christian organisations, all with some little thought provoking message. Campus fellowship groups should band together and start a screen printing company.

That’s all intro to an interesting experience I had a couple of days ago.

I sat down at a table to chat with a bloke, he looked me up and down and said “that’s a bit pretentious”. He was referring to my T-Shirt.
Oxford T-ShirtI was wearing an Oxford T-Shirt, it has a great big golden Oxford Logo on the front. I’ve never been to Oxford, let alone studied there. The t-shirt is a gift from my parents-in-law on their last visit. From the muffled groan when I unwrapped it, to this conversation, the T-Shirt has caused me nothing but grief. Not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I can’t wear it without feeling like a goose. Anyway, in this particular situation the rebuke wasn’t warranted.
But the truth is, I’m a pretentious person so the words weren’t wasted.
I name-drop with the best, I show off and compete.

That’s not my point.

It’s this, after our conversation I found myself standing in a large group of Christians singing the words from On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I burnt with shame, and then we sang the lines
No merit of my own I claim,
But wholly lean on Jesus name.

I was ready to tear the offensive thing off my chest and put a match to it. I could have sworn that the T-Shirt was constructed from woven Uranium and was burning into my skin. I felt every eye in the rows behind burrowing into my back, and every mind whispering ‘sinner’. I was covered with shame…
I honestly felt something like this, although in the calm light of reality, I know that it was all just in my head. No one else really cares that much.

During that song I discovered a little of what it would be like to walk around with your sins published to the whole world. Imagine condensing your sinfulness for a day and screen-printing it on a shirt. Covering yourself with shame, without any way to avoid the glances of the people you encounter. Some people have to live like that…

Actually, all of us live like that before God. There aren’t any frills or fabric that can stop his gaze from penetrating our hearts. He sees my sin as clear as if I wore it on my chest. Wearing that T-Shirt at that moment just made me more fully aware of the way I’m clothed before God all the time.

Or would be, if not for the clothes swap I did with Jesus.

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27 HCSB)

I can’t begin to say how great a comfort it is to know that God doesn’t look at me and say ‘pretentious’.
He has every right.

Instead I’ve got the t-shirt printed ‘righteous’, and the label which reads ‘made on Calvary’.

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2 thoughts on “Covered with Shame

  1. You didn't think to reply 'that's extraordinarily rude' to the guy that criticised your tshirt before you'd even started chatting?! Not to mention judgemental and assumptive [did you hear how that's a word now?] – there's a lot of reasons people wear shirts from universities – not the least of them being that they were gifts from people you are wise not to offend – right through to 'hey look, irony, wearing a shirt from a place i've never been'. If the shirt had said "my in-laws went to oxford and all i got was this lousy shirt', then, then my friend, you would have deserved everything you had coming.

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  2. I don't know… all those witty ripostes seem to desert me in those situations 😦
    I'm over it now, thanks for the vicarious outrage though, It's greatly comforting…

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