It’s often obvious to tell what people do for a living by the clothes they wear. Uniforms help us to identify people such as policemen, firemen etc. In the hospital, different grades of staff wear different coloured tunics and there are usually charts on the wall helping us to understand this.
Clergy wear a dog collar that needs no explanation and clearly sets out what the wearer’s beliefs and principles are.
School children wear a uniform which helps everyone to know which school they go to and also helps us to spot anyone not behaving as they should! Children also wear uniforms to show that they belong to a group such as brownies or cubs.
Football supporters wear a shirt with their team name on or a scarf so we can identify where their allegiances lie. Usually, people who don’t wear a uniform have a lanyard and badge to identify who they are and what they do.
How do people know what our interests, abilities and skills are if we don’t wear something that identifies us? Can people tell what kind of person we are by our outward appearance?
I find that since I retired I don’t fit into a particular group and need identification- unless you consider the over sixties as a group (the white hair gives it away). I belong to a variety of different groups such as the church, school governors and the horticultural society, but you wouldn’t know this just by looking at me – it’s what I say and do that gives the clues.
In our churches, we may belong to a group that wears a badge such as mothers union or the uniform of the choir. But many of us don’t have anything that identifies who we are. We would assume that people who attend church services are Christians just by the nature of their being part of the congregation. Is this a correct assumption? How do people we meet outside of the church know that we are Christians? some people wear a cross around their neck or on their lapel but many of us don’t.
I think that the best way to show that we follow Jesus is to behave as he did and to follow his teachings. Our behaviour should show people that we follow a code, set of rules or lifestyle that is governed by a higher power. Can people see Jesus in us by the way we behave towards them?
The way we speak to each other, our compassion, kindness and our honesty should be a beacon to our faith. I don’t think we can have a halo shining around our heads as in the old paintings, but something should shine from us. I’ve sometimes heard people say that the most unchristian people can be found in a church and I have had personal experience of this. The church is not just another club that we belong to – it should be a way of life that affects our behaviour on a daily basis.
We should put God first and then the other things that we do as part of the church community will reflect God’s love and be done for the right reasons and help to build strong relationships in the community of our church and beyond.
I have been privileged to attend two celebrations in our church during September 2019. The first was the licencing of our new rector, Peter and the second was the funeral of Doreen Hough. In both these services we were given guidance as to how we should behave. Doreen’s service sheet had these words
“ If I’ve helped somebody as I’ve passed along… then my living has not been in vain..!
If I have done my duty as a Christian ought ,
if I have brought back beauty to a world up -wrought,
If I have spread love’s message that the master taught
Then my living has not been in vain!”
During Peters licensing we sung these words.
“Word of God discerned in contexts,
In a world that’s spoilt for choice;
in the clamour and confusions
Help us hear the shepherds voice.
In your Word we seek your guiding;
May our hearts and lives respond.”
Let our uniform be love for one another. The Bible tells us…
“You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.