For a moment, I thought that I should have done better. Shouldn't they be wearing tights under their dresses instead of cotton leggings, mismatched socks, or bare legs? Shouldn't they have new white dress shoes instead of everyday sneakers? Wouldn't it be better if I had found my little one's shoes instead of resorting to strapping her pink sandals over her white socks?
Wouldn't we be better prepared for Easter if we looked the part?
As we drove to church, I realized that the answer to my question is a resounding no.
It's not about our outward appearances. We don't need to have our acts together to come to God. He invites us this way -- honest, broken, disheveled, just as we are. We can come before Him with mismatched socks.
During service, a man stood to speak about how Christ changed his life. I hated everyone. I didn't care what people thought of me then, he said, speaking of his sordid background filled with violence, crime, drugs, and stints in rehab and jail. I've known this man for years, and I knew parts of his story but not the depths.
His life is so different now. He's a preschool teacher. He works in children's ministry. He's been clean and serving God for ten years, and my children absolutely love him. I can't help but smile when I see him.. And what he said next struck such a chord in me: And I don't care what people think of me now. I am living for Jesus. How could I not want others to know?
I don't care what people think of me now.
During services, this is a man who claps the loudest. This is a man who always stands in the front, his arms raised, and will will shout Amen! and Thank you, Jesus!
This is a man who -- I am sure -- has gotten sideways glances, even from fellow church-goers, because of his unbridled zeal. Can't he just tone it down? Let's keep this respectful.
But no, he can't tone it down. His life has been radically changed, and he's never going to forget it. He wants everyone to experience what he's discovered.
When I accepted Christ at age fifteen, I was a pretty good kid. I hadn't done too much wrong by most people's standards. I don't have a dramatic testimony of being lifted from the gutter by God's grace, yanked from a lifestyle of blatant sin or addiction. I've been following God for nineteen years.
Still, do I have the same tenacity to boldly proclaim, I don't care what people think of me now?
Because sometimes I do care. I work in academia, an environment where faith in Jesus is not the norm. I live in regular society, a society where following God seems antiquated or closed-minded. I blog for readers, some of whom might not agree.
Even though I should have immediately left the sanctuary to pick up my girls in their Sunday school classrooms once the service ended, I instead went to the front for prayer. My request was simple: "I don't want to care."
So there I stood, tears on my face, wiping my nose with my daughter's jacket that was draped over my arm, knowing that I looked disheveled and mismatched. Exactly as God wants me to be -- honest, without pretense.
I am living for Jesus. An audience of one.
It won't always be popular. It won't always be applauded. It won't always be understood. But I'm like that man. My life has been marked by God, and I am so grateful.
How could I ever forget it? How could I not want everyone to know Jesus?
I want to point others to Christ. Let me always care about people, but let me not care about what people may think.