Many of you are probably familiar with the image pictured in this blog post. Among other things, the image has been printed on t-shirts, hoodies, badges and hats over the last few years and has gained quite a bit of notoriety among those in the fashion world. In short, this image has made Jesus “trendy” by becoming a relevant part of pop culture.
In our current series at Centerpoint we have been comparing and contrasting the perceptions and realities of Jesus. With this weeks topic of Homeboy Buddy Jesus this image was bound to come up. As I researched the story behind this image I found something unexpected. Turns out the idea for this t-shirt was not birthed out of a get rich quick scheme but rather a genuine spiritual encounter in the life of a young man named Van Zan Frater.
New to Los Angels, Van had a dangerous encounter with a street gang. As part of the encounter Van found himself on the ground looking up at the barrel of a cocked gun. With nothing left to do Van looked at the boy holding the gun and said “Jesus is my homeboy and don’t you know that Jesus is your homeboy too?” Van’s message was passed quickly and the gang left him unharmed.
Feeling his life had been saved Van set out to share his experience with all who would listen. While many have seen this t-shirt as blasphemy the reality is that Van had what he would consider an authentic encounter with Christ. By reading the story, it’s hard to get the impression that Van ever wanted to turn Jesus into a trendy fashion accessory but that’s on the shoulder of our culture not Van.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the reaction to this image would be different if the same story had been shared in church by a missionary. It’s amazing how context changes everything and it’s a good reminder to us all that there’s always more to a story than meets the eye.
To read the entire J.I.M.H. story click HERE