I have a “Gruene, Texas” T-shirt that I love for its colors and design—but there’s a problem. Each time I wear it, at least one person stops me to share happy memories of the town or to ask where Gruene is. I have to tell them, “I’ve never been there; I bought the shirt at Goodwill.” There are two primary reactions to this: 1) hearty laughter, followed by an exhortation to check out Gruene ASAP; or 2) a miffed expression that means, “Poser!”
Now, I’ve been close to Gruene, having journeyed through the Hill Country a few times. I know this much about it: Originally known as Goodwin, the town was renamed for Heinrich “Henry” Gruene, who brought large-scale cotton farming to the area in the 1870s; the name pronunciation morphed to “Green” some time ago; absorbed by New BraunfeIs, Gruene is now an historic district in that city. Interesting data, but I got it all secondhand. Some folks think that’s not enough to merit the T-shirt. I realize this is not a true dilemma, but it puts me in mind of a situation that could be.
Whenever I project a connection to Jesus—via clothing, jewelry, bumper sticker, lawn sign, card, tract, song, action, terminology—will that connection prove tenuous or strong? If asked, will I be ready to “give an answer [for]…the reason for the hope I have” (1 Peter 3:15), or will I quench the Holy Spirit within me? The stakes here are infinitely higher than a T-shirt.