By Scott Riggan
It was one of those late-night dorm room conversations – probably fueled by study fatigue, stress and stale pizza. A seemingly profound suggestion was proposed: what if, when one became a Christian, some kind of uniform could be issued. Upon wearing this uniform, the follower of Jesus would be easily identified by everyone all around.
Okay, sure. You have to admit, there’s little on the outside of us that reveals what we believe about God. Even things like the Jesus Fish or the Christian T-shirt have limitations, since much of our Christian cultural shorthand doesn’t always convey what we might hope.
Say you’re standing in line at Starbucks. I’m pretty sure nobody around you could guess that you’re a disciple of Christ just by looking at you. Would your order of a Grande Soy Mocha clue anyone in to your faith orientation? How about if you were wearing a Christian T-shirt? Would that do the trick? Or what if people could plainly see a Jesus fish on your car as you drove away?
So back to my friend and his “uniform” suggestion. He figured that this “Christian” outfit would need to be drastic and unmistakable. It would need to be something that no one else would just happen to wear.
Specifically, he proposed that we all should start wearing penguin costumes.
Why penguins? I can honestly say that I have no idea. But you’ve got to admit that people would notice if you walked around dressed as a penguin. Picture yourself in a penguin suit at your office. Or at the store. Your school. Having dinner at a restaurant. Working at, say, a construction site …
No question, this would make a Statement.
But here’s the thing: we’ve already been assigned a “uniform,” so to speak: a definitive, obvious characteristic that should let everyone know Whom we serve. Here’s what Jesus has to say about it:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 NIV
Jesus – whose opinion matters, I think – is saying that our actions speak louder than the Jesus fish on our Volvos. How we live – and particularly, how we love – identifies us as His followers. Notice He doesn’t say “by your Moral Perfection” or “by the Tidiness of Your Front Yard” or even “by your Correct Theology.”
No. They’ll know we follow Jesus by the way we LOVE.
Not obvious enough, you say? Well, I’ll agree that our penguin suits would definitely get people’s attention.
But try to imagine this: Christians – real people with different opinions, personalities, political affiliations, racial and cultural backgrounds – actually loving one another (and by that I mean more than playing nice together). I really think that would be attention-getting. Even shocking.
“Love one another.” And if that isn’t going to do the trick, then we’d better get to work sewing those penguin costumes.
Scott Riggan is best known for his recording of “I Love You Lord.” He serves as Worship Arts Pastor for Eagle Christian Church and lives with his family on a small ranch in Emmett. After a long break from songwriting, he’s recorded a new album titled “Beautiful and Terrible.”