CCU News / Faith / Opinion

A Commentary on Christian Culture: Jesus Merch – To Wear or Not to Wear

Reflecting the Kingdom goes beyond just a t-shirt

“Jesus loves you.” This wonderful and true statement is sported on t-shirts by countless college students across the nation. This and many other types of “Jesus merchandising” are used to encourage strangers and offer a conversation starter.

But is this the best way to share the Good News of Jesus?

Have you ever been driving behind someone with a bumper sticker that says something about peace? Well, you may scoff at that sticker after they cut you off in traffic. Or, when someone has a tattoo about unity, and yet seems to cause turbulence among others, you may roll your eyes. Unfortunately, we can do the same thing with our Jesus merch.

If we are wearing a shirt that says “Jesus loves you” and act rudely to our waiter, we are tarnishing not only our reputation, but the waiter’s view of Jesus. Who would want to learn about Jesus if His followers are rude?

We may be interested in more polarizing messages as well. The Jesus Loves You Co. previously sold a shirt that said “Jesus hates racism…” on the front, and “…but loves the racist” on the back. This is a powerful message of how God hates our sin and yet loves us. However, this divided some believers on whether this was an effective message or not. How would a nonbeliever take this? Would it bring them to believe that Christians tolerate racism? While that’s not the intended meaning, a stranger passing on the street may interpret it differently.

On the flip side, Jesus merch can be a great way to open the door for conversations about the gospel. I’ve had people ask the meaning behind my shirt while studying at a coffee shop. It was an opportunity to tell them what Jesus came to do for the world. These types of moments help plant seeds in everyday moments.

One of the main struggles with Jesus merch is the motivation behind it. The goal should be to spread the joy of Christ. However, some people may choose controversial pieces to stand out or rock the boat. This unfortunately makes it about the wearer, not the gospel.

If we are going to wear merch that proclaims the Good News, we must make sure that we aren’t tarnishing it with our actions. We should always strive to glorify God in our daily lives, but we must be more aware of this if we are telling the world about Him. We should be known as a follower of Christ by what we do, not what we wear.

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