My wife and I were in Wal-Mart late this evening with my oldest son getting a few things for his upcoming trip to summer camp. While we were waiting to check out we noticed a few guys in their early to mid twenties were standing nearby. One of them had one of his arms entirely covered in tattoos. I couldn’t see the other one well, because there was a display between us. However, my son noticed that he had a single tattoo on his right arm and it was in Hebrew. He told me it said אמונה, emunah, the Hebrew word for “faith.”
So, I approached the young man and struck up a conversation. I asked him, “So, how’s your emunah?” He looked at me confused for a split second, so I pointed to his arm. “Oh!” he said with his face lighting up, “Oh, it’s pretty good. I’m not into religion, but I still have faith.” So, I asked him what caused him to get that particular tattoo. Continuing to smile, he responded by telling me that he was raised in a “strict Christian home,” and used to be religious. He had a friend who knew a little Hebrew and he had him help him find the Hebrew word for faith. He said, “I used to be religious, but I’m not so much anymore. I accept people’s religious perspectives and don’t pass judgment, but I’m not into that anymore.”
We exchanged a few more words, I told him a story about another Hebrew tattoo gone bad, and then I offered him my contact info in case he would ever like to dialogue about religion and his personal journey. He happily put my phone number in his phone and said he might like that. I asked him his name, and he said it was Dillon. We shook hands, I told him I would keep him in my prayers, and we parted ways.
As I reflect back on this experience it makes me think of the multitude of “Dillon’s” there are in the world: young adults who were inspired in their childhood or teenage years and then disillusioned as an adult. Young adults who are searching for something ancient and something real. He went out of his way to find out the Hebrew word for “faith” so that he could permanently imprint it onto his body. The irony of it all is that Dillon says he still has faith. But faith in what? He may have a positive outlook, but does he really have faith? Who and what does he believe in? Emunah requires both faith IN something and faithfulness TO something. I think Dillon holds onto his tatt as an anchor to a time in his life when he did have faith, a time when life was much simpler and the more difficult questions of life weren’t beating on his front door. Maybe it reflects a hope that one day he might regain some type of faith, a hope that there really is a good and loving God that personally cares for him. Whatever the case, Dillon is still holding out hope.
How can we reach the Dillon’s of our generation? I think the most effective means is by living authentic, holy lives. Anything less than authentic, a Dillon can see right through it. That’s what has produced the Dillons of our generation. Anything less than holy, a Dillon knows is disingenuous also. Many in the church claim to be living an authentic life. But living an authentic life devoid of holiness is simply being a Dillon. Holy and authentic lives are what Dillons are looking for. Are you producing Dillons or inspiring them to a closer walk with the God of the universe?