When I was 8 years old, I had a yellow t-shirt with a picture of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ironed on the front. I was proud of it until the day I wished I had never worn it at all.
For a kid on my block, the ultimate dare was to knock on a certain family’s door and run. We will call this family the Smiths to protect the family (and the writer). Having several of their family members in jail at one point or another, the Smiths were not a family I wanted to start trouble with. I believed the stories I heard and like the other kids on the block, I scattered like a sea lion fleeing a great white shark whenever the Smith family would roll down the block in their blue, Chevy Impala. It was better to be safe than sorry.
One summer evening around sunset, two kids from another block took the dare on the promise that my neighbor, an older kid usually responsible for such dares, would give them each a Pepsi if they remained on the Smith family’s porch at least one minute after knocking. I watched as these two foolish kids (one of them wearing a yellow t-shirt similar to the one I wore) strolled across the street toward the notorious house of Smith. As they climbed the porch steps and knocked, I wondered if the police would ask me questions later when these kids were reported missing. Still, I couldn’t stop watching. The kids stood on the porch and began to speak to someone who was obscured by the cracked door. They managed to stay on the porch for a couple of minutes before making their getaway. It wasn’t until later that I would find out these kids asked a series of insulting questions I won’t repeat.
I sat on my front steps still in shock at the boldness of what I just witnessed. My shock turned to terror as Mrs. Smith stormed out of the front door, stomped across her yard and yelled threats at me with her face contorted in anger. I bounced up to run inside my house, but stopped when I noticed my grandmother had entered the front yard to water the lawn. Before Mrs. Smith set a foot in our yard and put a hand on me, my grandmother aimed the hose and sprayed her. Twice.
Mrs. Smith didn’t come any closer, but she continued to yell in my direction, blaming me for knocking on her door and pestering her family. When I protested, she said she knew it had to be me because of my yellow t-shirt. I tried to explain that the real culprit also wore a yellow t-shirt. Fortunately, even though my protests weren’t heard, my grandmother’s presence was felt by Mrs. Smith. My grandmother is 5’ 3”, but with the hose in her hand that day she stood 7’ 3”. Mrs. Smith reluctantly walked back to her house, spitting acidic comments and leaving a trail of wet footprints behind her. I never wore the t-shirt again. For me, E.T. reminded me of being “extra terrified” that day and I certainly did not want the Smith family to ever see me wearing it.
As a Christian, I don’t advocate knocking on doors and running or spraying your accusers (or anyone else for that matter) with a hose. But as a child, I needed an adult to stand in the gap between me and Mrs. Smith before matters grew worse. Regardless, if you are Christian, we will always need a protector to spray the hose of truth on Satan when he comes stomping across the yard of our identity in Christ to tell us we are still bound by sin and guilt.
I agree that we have responsibilities to live life as Christ did. Mike Mobley recently wrote a great post on the issues facing men today and how we join the Holy Spirit in the battle by Acting Like Men. I think it also serves us well to understand our enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (ESV)
We have a real enemy who wants to neutralize us with sin and have us believe the very sin we commit was not covered by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This enemy wants us to feel accused, condemned and afraid and apart from God. However, we are free from condemnation. Romans 8:1 states, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (ESV). The Apostle Paul writes this as a summary statement to his argument that believers in Christ are free from legalism that would continue to keep a believer in bondage to self instead of reliant on God.
Our protection comes in the promise that Jesus is our mediator as found in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . . ” (ESV). Jesus stood, stands and will always stand in the gap between sin and salvation. If you are a Christian, you can stand up against Satan’s accusations by knowing Jesus has ironed his identity on the fabric of your soul.
Be proud of that truth and don’t give up wearing it!