When I was in high school, my church’s youth group would go to a conference called Winter Xtreme in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Perhaps some of you have heard of it. It is a jam-packed weekend of Christians bands and speakers. I remember regularly hearing Casting Crowns and NewSong perform at these events, much to the delight of everyone in attendance. These guys are considered CCM royalty at this point. But, one year a much different band took the stage by the name of Flyleaf. They sounded and looked nothing like Casting Crowns or NewSong. Instead, they looked like this:
Their music was loud and aggressive. All of the band members were wearing black clothes and eyeliner. The guitarist and bass player were spinning around on stage while playing. And the lead singer, Lacey Sturm, was screaming some of the lyrics at times. It was such a shock to the youth groups in attendance that some people started to boo, while others packed up their things and left. My youth leaders decided to let each of us decide whether or not we wanted to stay. I decided to stay because, well, I liked their sound. And as a drummer myself, I wanted to watch their drummer because he was playing with such speed and velocity.
By the time Flyleaf was on their second or third song, almost half of the audience was gone. It is such a shame because during their set, Lacey Sturm, gave one of the clearest explanations of the Gospel I have ever heard. She also shared her testimony about how close she was to committing suicide before she heard the Gospel herself. That night, I remember many students going forward to receive Christ for the first time. I know that the Lord used her story to reach young people battling the same issues.
I can’t help but wonder about all of the people who left before she shared her story. How many leaders and parents took their students out because they passed a quick judgment on Flyleaf’s looks and music? I have been to many Christian concerts over the years, but I honestly don’t remember hearing a lead singer stop the show in order to share the Gospel. You see, there is a danger in looking at someone and saying, “There is no way they are Christians, just look at them!” What does a Christian look like, anyway?
If a suit and tie made people Christians, I’d buy them for everyone I could. If eating Chick-fil-a could save you, I’d buy as many chicken sandwiches as I could afford. If people could become born again simply by using essential oils, I’d give them out to every person I could come in contact with. But these things aren’t what makes you a Christian.
Sure, you will see many genuine Christians wearing suits, eating Chick-fil-a, and using essential oils, but these reveal nothing about their standing with God. It doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside. What matters is what has taken place within the depths of our souls. Please listen to me—you can look Christian and still end up in hell. You can wear all the Christian t-shirts, own an ESV Study Bible, listen to TobyMac, teach a Sunday School class, even preach behind a pulpit and still not know the One, True, Living God.
Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus as your personal Savior? Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb?
God is calling people from every tribe, nation, tongue…and walk of life. Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean that they don’t know Jesus. Rejoice in how diversely beautiful the body of Christ is already and will be once the Great Commission is fulfilled. Thank God that Christians can look like you, like Casting Crowns, like Flyleaf, like anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. Maybe Lacey Sturm didn’t look like someone I’d see at my church, but on that night, she looked like Jesus.