Spiritual Tattoos

by Marlin Hoover

A Tattoo

We all know what a tattoo is.

A permanent mark or design; the act or practice of marking the skin with permanent patterns, pictures, legends, etc. Marks made on the skin by a process of pricking and ingraining a permanent pigment.

It seems tattoos have become very common place in today’s culture. There are tattoo parlors on every corner.

Statistic Brain lists some tattoo statistics:

  • Annual amount of U.S. spending on tattoos $1,650,500,000
  • Total percent of Americans (all ages) who have at least one tattoo 14%
  • Total number of Americans that have at least one tattoo 45 million
  • Number of tattoo parlors in the U.S. 21,000
  • Average cost of a small tattoo $45, average cost of a large tattoo $150/hour
  • Percentage of people who have some regret after getting their tattoo 17%

A Spiritual Tattoo

OK, let’s look at spiritual tattoos.

First of all what in the world is a spiritual tattoo?

A permanent mark or design relating to the spirit or soul. The act or practice of marking the interests, attitude, outlook, etc. with permanent practices, beliefs, rituals, etc. made on the spiritual skin.

It seems spiritual tattoos have become very common place in today’s culture. There are spiritual tattoo parlors on every corner. To me a spiritual tattoo parlor is simply a physical church.

Some spiritual tattoo statistics:

  • Annual revenues of faith-based organizations $378,900,000,000 (Georgetown University study)
  • Total percent of Christians (all ages) who attend church at least once a week 37% (Gallop poll results)
  • Number of congregations estimated in the U.S. 350,000 (Hartford Institute estimate)
  • Average weekly per person giving (WPCG) in an American church is $26 (from an article by Bob Whitesel).
  • There are 217 denominations listed in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Discussion of Spiritual Tattoos

People enter churches and they (the churches) propose to spiritually tattoo the person with their particular mark. They begin the process of pricking and ingraining a permanent pigment of the operation, technique, procedure, or mechanism of their church and denomination. They begin to mark the interests, attitude and outlook of the person’s spirit with their church’s purpose. Once spiritually tattooed they are no longer just a Christian, they are a Methodist, a Baptist, a member of the Church of Christ etc.

As Christians we are all a part of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the Church, made up of all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The Bible tells us: “For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Seems that denominational churches are simply tattooing the body of Christ, the one capital Church of Christ, with their pigment of operation, technique, procedure and mechanism of worship - something that might get under Jesus’ skin. When focusing on just our local church and denomination, are we simply allowing ourselves to be spiritually tattooed? By focusing on physical churches and denominations are we truly receiving the Kingdom of God as we should?

You can certainly avoid getting caught up in denominational issues as so many are doing - that is, by belonging to an independent or nondenominational church. A 2010 study of US church denominations indicates that the grouping of nondenominational churches, if taken together, would be the second largest Protestant group in the country with over 35,000 independent or nondenominational churches.

But it’s important to remember that you can still thrive as a Christian and be a member of one of the denominational churches. Just don’t get carried away with denominational issues but remember that, first of all, we are Christians and, as such, we are all children in the Kingdom of God.

Members of the Body of Christ share a common bond with all other Christians, regardless of background, race, or denomination. “God’s purpose was that the body should not be divided but rather that all of its parts should feel the same concern for each other.” 1 Corinthians 12:25

Christ continues His work in the world through those He has redeemed—the Church. Christians are to now demonstrate the love of God clearly, tangibly, and boldly. In this way, the Church functions as “the Body of Christ.”

Enhance the Body of Christ

As a part of the church, what can you do to enhance the body of Christ? The body is a holy entity and is to be respected and treated with complete honor and care. The Bible provides several action principles for building up the body of Christ:

  • You are called to promote truth and unity - Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
  • You are called to service - 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 outlines the importance of using your God-given spiritual gift. Your gift is unique and equally important. It is essential to the body that you use your special gift in service to God.
  • You are called to share Jesus - Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” As part of the body of Christ, you are to share your life-changing story with others!
  • You are called to worship - “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:1–2).
  • You are called to love each other - “ 1 John 4:11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Are you a contributing member of the body of Christ? Are you actively serving God and sharing Him with others? Are you contributing to peace and unity within the body? Do you worship regularly?

Are we building the Body of Christ or simply spiritually tattooing it with worldly ink?