Modern-day HippieThere is this perception that the average church-attending male teenager must be clean-shaven, have hair that does not grow past the collar and wear slacks or a suit to church on Sunday. And, in some places, this is indeed what you see. However, it is not a prerequisite.

Jesus Christ, after whom we model ourselves and our congregation, never said, “Come to me, all ye who wear suits and short hair.” Rather, he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) In this context, it may surprise you to learn that there are indeed teens out there who are burdened.

Again, in John 3:16, it says that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Even this verse – made famous by football fans with cardboard signs in various end zones – does not talk about the prerequisite of looking the part to belong.

Yet even as adults we still fall into the trap of wanting to first look the part before we actually approach God. We think that we first need to clean up our way of speaking, thinking and being before we can actually have anything to do with God. It’s a bit like having your car detailed before taking it to CarMax for an offer – after you have not cleaned out the vehicle in months.

But God is not looking for the perfect package when we approach. In fact, Romans 5:8 clearly tells us that “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” So, come as you are. Long hair or short, in jeans or slacks, with a boat load of problems or just a few – God’s glad to have you and so are we.