Sunday, July 22, 2012

God Doesn't Wear Camouflage

Many of us remember spending the six years of junior high and high school just trying to blend in, to be invisible.  More than anything, young people want to be like everyone else.  They want to be liked, accepted, to simply not feel so socially awkward in an environment where standing out for the wrong reasons is the equivalent of painting Target's bright red logo on your back.

Yet, for me, even in a small school, or maybe especially in a small school, invisibility was an impossible goal.

No matter how I tried to camouflage myself, I was always easily identifiable as the smart one--not pretty or popular or athletic.  Just smart.

One day, I learned I was also easily identifiable as something else--a follower of Christ.  Although my teenager self was never bold enough to openly proclaim my faith, it wasn't something I intentionally hid either.  It simply was.

Still, my mouth gaped and my tongue grew thick when one day standing outside in the lunch line, a tall, popular girl turned around and snarled, "You're one of those Jesus freaks, aren't you?"

Her bluntness made me fumble, quite uneloquently, for a proper response. This was my chance to take a stand.  What should I say? What reply would keep me under the radar of persecution yet not be like Peter at the cock's crowing?

"I believe in Jesus if that's what you mean, so, yeah, I guess I am."  

I paused, my face engulfed in flames. She didn't respond, just looked down at me, coolly and without interest, then turned back around to her circle, which promptly began to snicker and giggle at my awkwardness.

It's been almost twenty years since those awkward days, but the pressure to fit in never gets any easier.  With Christianity constantly being labelled as a judgmental, homophobic, bigoted religion, the political correctness police only intensifies this pressure to hide one's faith.

But our God doesn't wear camouflage.

Our God is one who intentionally chooses to not blend in.  Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, He stands out from the crowd.

Our God is one who appeared unmistakable on the monochrome rocky hillside of Mount Horeb as "flames of fire from within a bush" (Ex. 3:2).  He led the Israelites across the brown, barren desert in the most obvious way possible: "The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night" (Ex. 12:21).  

Our God is one who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to stand out like a sore thumb among us: "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom...The news about Him spread throughout all Syria...Large crowds followed Him from Gaililee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan" (Matt. 4:23-25). 

Our God is also one who sent His Spirit to dwell within believers in a very spectacular way: at Pentecost, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance...the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language" (Acts 2:4-6).
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit--all parts of the trinity make their presence obvious, easy to see in a lost and dying world.

Likewise, Scripture cautions us believers to not blend in, to follow the example of the Godhead.

Jesus told His disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 'Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven'" (Matt. 5:14-16).

We are to let the Spirit shine forth from within us so everyone can see God's light even if they're across the room.

Wearing the safe cloak of camouflage may save us from persecution and from losing our jobs.

But sporting politically correct purples and all-is-acceptable aquas won't save the souls around us, those that are looking for the light whether they realize it or not.

Wear burning bush orange and blood-stained crimson instead.

Images: Euonymus, Burning Bush shrub.


  1. This is great, Jennifer. I've been doing a read through the Bible plan this year and just finished up the Gospels. I was amazed again and again at how "awkward" Jesus seemed (though perfect and holy) in the midst of mainstream culture. He was NOT popular, not a people-pleaser and not (as you say) invisible. With him as my example, I have a long way to go!

  2. Yes, if we were walking with Jesus today, I fear we'd be like his disciples who told him to just chill out, that His words were too hard and were driving people away. But His words were truth, even if they weren't easy. It's hard to mimic that level of bluntness mixed with compassion, but it's the path we're to travel.