Recently we went to the South Coast on a family holiday. One morning we visited Hibberdene beach. It is a cosy beach with an area of grass leading up to it. During the holidays a number of beach vendors set up stalls, pancakes, beach wear, hats, fishing nets for children and the like. The most popular was the tattoo cubicle.
I grew up in the era where only sailors and ducktails had tattoos. It was certainly not the sort of thing that respectable people even considered. However, buoyed up by the holiday spirit, I decided to get a henna tattoo on my ankle. My son, daughter and grandchildren got one too – the girls on the ankle, the boys on their upper arm. I felt so daring. It was fun choosing our pictures. I went for a seahorse. The results were very encouraging. They looked just like real tattoos. I felt like a rebellious teenager. For a short time I had joined a culture that was outside my normal life. For all that, nothing would persuade me to get a real tattoo. I am not that committed. It is not me.
It got me to thinking. It is possible to be a henna tattoo Christian. You can’t tell by looking. You can hang out with the Christian crowd, learn the right phrases, even sing in the worship team but if the commitment is not there it will fade off after time.
We have been following the life of Joseph at our church. Yesterday we learned what characterised his life. He learned about God and his dealings with his father and grandfather at an early age. Then at 17 he was transported into another country where there was not one other believer. He was on his own. Yet his faith in the God of his fathers was enough to enable him to resist temptation when it was offered to him on a platter. Later when his brothers reappeared, he was able to forgive them from the heart. On his deathbed he asked that his bones be carried away because he believed God’s promise that He would deliver His people from Egypt. He was the real thing.
I am not sure how I would respond to the same challenges. Would I still be a Christian if I was the only one in a strange country, where there were no churches? Is my faith strong enough to enable me to resist strong temptations and to be able to forgive those who have wronged me?
Or am I just a henna tattoo Christian?