More Than Conquerors

The Teens Proudly Displaying their Christmas Gifts
By: Mark Henkelman, Teen Program Coordinator

Recently I had the privilege of being invited to a Winnipeg Jets NHL hockey game. One thing that struck me as I walked the concourse and took my seat up in the nosebleeds of the MTS Centre was all of the people who were wearing Jets jerseys. Of the thousands of people in the arena it was only a small minority that weren’t wearing a Jersey, or Shirt, or Toque, scarf, hat, hoodie, jacket, etc.  To be in the Jets arena without a Jets logo on some article of clothing is to be the odd one out. It is interesting because, besides the consumerism, I think that the thousands of people wearing jerseys speak to our basic, God-given, human nature.

Humanity craves belonging. When God created the earth, the only thing in all of creation that God did not pronounce good was Adam’s aloneness (Gen 2:18). So God created Eve and created the first community, the first relationship on this earth. We are wired by our creator to belong to a community, to be in relationship with other humans. You see it in the MTS centre with everyone wearing their allegiance to the “Tribe of Jets” fandom on their clothes. You see it in the fashions of our world, in the tattoos people put on their bodies and in the colours gang members wear.

Each Christmas at Living Bible Explorers we give gifts to our children and our teens. This year we gave hooded sweatshirts (“hoodies”) to all of our teens. We have begun to study the book of Romans with the teens and so, emblazoned on the front of each hoodie is truth from Romans that “We are more than conquerors through Christ who saved us” (Romans 8:37). We wanted to give them a gift that they would be proud to wear that would also be a testimony of their faith in Christ. Our idea was more successful than we expected; we checked social media on Christmas day and were delighted to see that Facebook and Instagram were full of pictures of our teens wearing their hoodies proudly and declaring their belonging in Christ.

The original intent behind giving the hoodies as gifts was fairly straightforward. Growing teenagers need clothes, and a hoodie is a warm piece of clothing that teenagers find fashionable; but God used this simple fashion as a unique opportunity to build community, to make our teens feel like they belong. It’s been a month since the teens have received their hoodies and still almost every day I see a teen wearing an LBE hoodie. To many of our teens, their hoodies have become a symbol of their connection to the body of Christ, a reminder to them and those around them that they belong to Christ, and that they have been placed in a family (Psalm 68:6).

The world around us attempts to draw us into kingdoms: be it the kingdom of the Jets, or something more sinister like the pull our teens face from gangs. It is exciting to see how God has used the simple Christmas gift of a hoodie to subvert the world and remind the teens of the real Kingdom, the original Kingdom. Christ calls us to join His Kingdom, over and over in the New Testament the message of Christ is to come and belong to the Kingdom of God. From the first moments of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:15) right up until Revelation and Christ’s return, we are called to belong to God’s Kingdom.