Husband. Dad to 5. Student Ministry Pastor. Follower of Jesus. Yatta yatta.


This past sunday we were talking about friendship in our high school ministry; and specifically, friendship with God.  We talked about facebook and how culture has redefined things like who we call a “friend” and the way we use it based on phrases like “you have a friend request” and such.

Jesus actually chooses friendship as the means by which he wants to interact with us in John 15 when he calls his disciples to a radical kind of love that would die for someone.

(John 15:12–15)
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

As a big idea, I was challenging students that we all need to own this idea:  

“My friendship with Jesus shapes my friendships”

In the process, we discussed that our understanding of what it means to be a friend of God or how to be in close friendship with God is jacked up because we read stuff backwards into that concept from our culture.  So if you have a weird understanding of earthly friendship, you end up with a weird understanding of a heavenly one.  The same way that many have a really hard time with the phrase “Father God” because their only upfront image of an earthly father is one of absentee or abuse.

As I pondered this message and thought of what we think of when we think of friendship with Jesus, I was reminded of the pop-culture phenomenon of “Jesus is my homeboy”.

If you’re unfamiliar with it…

  • Here’s the official t-shirt and whatnot website that went viral after several pop culture icons wore the shirt in the early 2000’s I think. 
  • Here’s the urban dictionary post on homeboy that makes the phrase among others to define the term homeboy- which is an interesting cultural exegesis note anyway.  
  • Here’s an blog post I ran across that shows lots of the ways that Jesus has been used in pop-culture lately, including “Jesus is my homeboy”. 
Whatever you think of the phrase “Jesus is my homeboy”, I found it interesting food for thought.   Plus, I think anything that provokes a response and conversation about who Jesus is or is not is worthy of using for youth ministry anytime.   But by far, the most thought provoking thing I ran across was a set of pictures by world renown photographer named David LaChapelle.
He did a series of 6 pieces of art that place a “Jesus figure” in modern contexts that he titled “Jesus is my homeboy“.  It begs images that the pharisees surely condemned Jesus for… 

(Luke 7:34)
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

Here’s 3 of the six.  You can find the rest on the link above. 
This last one is obviously a direct modern/ancient/pop-culture/conflicting/thought-provoking interpretation to this passage in Luke 7 where Jesus is approached by a “sinful woman” who washes his feet with her hair and anoints them with perfume.  
If you want to get student’s talking, you might consider showing them all 6 and interacting with some of the texts in this post and ask them something like this about these pictures:
  • How do you think these pictures help or hurt the image of Jesus as a friend?
  • When you picture Jesus as a friend, what do you picture?
  • Be an art critic for a minute:  Which one of these 6 was the most awkward?  Which is the most profound? 
  • If we were to insert Jesus into your friendship circles, describe what role he would play and how you think he would act and dress.  
If you do use it… I’d love to know how your study went.  Be sure and return a shout out in the comments. 


  1. I am TOTALLY going to use those photos/images at some point. They’re provocative without being explicit, and certainly would get students talking/thinking. Thanks for this.

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