Going to a private Christian school for 13 years was such an amazing blessing and will forever be something I am truly grateful to God and my family for, although it did not lack in little things that I wish had been different at the time. Things that I didn’t fully appreciate or understand until recently.
The question I get most often when I tell people that I went to a private school is, “Did you have to wear a uniform?”. The answer is yes, I did. Everyone did. And as worry-free as it was to not have to put forth a lot of extraneous effort into picking out an outfit every morning, I’m sure everyone would have loved to have had a few more “Jeans Days”. But even with that being said, there is something, in my opinion (I can’t speak for the rest of my classmates obviously), that is so beautifully captivating and wonderful about a uniform and how it unites everyone who puts it on in the morning.
As I got older in school, it started to be more apparent how the uniform worked. It wasn’t just something we wore while we were at school. It was something we wore if we went off campus for lunch. Something we wore right after school if we went to get froyo. Something we went to breakfast in. Something we wore when we were just doing life and hanging out after school. There was one day that I clearly remember one of my teachers talking to a group of students, telling us about how when we wear the uniform outside of school, it makes an impression on the people around us. How we behaved when we wore the uniform outside of its intended context gave outsiders an inside glance as to who we were as a community. When we walked around in our uniform, we had a responsibility to our school to live up to the standards that it based itself on. Because if we acted like hooligans in our plaid skirts or khaki pants and our green and white polos, then the uniform becomes a symbol of our actions. A warning of how we behaved and who we were as people and as a community.
Well, something that I’ve been convicted of recently is how much that same principle relates to me as a Christian. As someone who professes that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior and that the gospel He taught was a gospel of love, acceptance, and grace, why then am I so quick to judge, gossip, roll my eyes, turn my back, ignore, walk away, and never turn back? Isn’t that exactly what Jesus didn’t do? It’s been a long time coming for me to realize this, but the minute I claim my faith in God and proclaim it to the world I have just put on a uniform and all over it in big chunky bubble letters are the words LOVE, GRACE, and ACCEPTANCE. So big that others can read it from across the street. And the minute I put it on I have responsibilities I didn’t have before. But the thing is, I can’t just wear the uniform in church on Sunday or with my Christian friends. That would be easy, wouldn’t it? But I know it’s not fulfilling. I have to remember that I’m wearing it all the time. I never take it off.
Because when the uniform is on I become-in the words of my pastor- a part of the body of Christ that is “intended to be the visible presence of the living Christ in this world”
But because I wear it all the time, so many opportunities emerge for my uniform to get dirty and stained with the difficult situations and decisions that present themselves. Whether that comes in the form of hate, lust, rejection, dishonesty, shame, and so many more. It’s so easy to give into those situations and those opportunities that will fade the lettering that God so lovingly hand-stitched on our uniforms. I mean, how could it not be when The Enemy tries so hard to seduce and entice us with cunning words and flashy temptations? He did the same thing with Jesus in the desert. But if we give in, how is anyone supposed to know what it looks like to be a Christian? If we give in, how is anyone supposed to make out the words underneath the dirt?
Occasionally at school, we would hear about strangers who would write to the principal,headmaster, or a teacher and tell them about experiences they had when they came in contact with students in the uniform outside of school. Some good and some bad. It was always interesting to hear that if they had a good experience they might come take a tour of our school to see if their child would be a good fit because ultimately, when we lived up to the motto (J.O.Y. —Jesus, Others, Yourself) behind the uniform our school was attractive to people who may not have even known or heard of us before. And that has been what has really landed firm on my heart because the exact same thing can be said for Christians in their every day walks of life ever since Jesus walked through his own life on this earth thousands of years ago.
When we strive to live up to the character of Christ, and we consciously decide to wear the uniform with those big chunky bubble letters of hope on it, we become attractive to those who may not even know who we are or what we believe in. And when our uniform attracts people, people are attracted to our God.
So walk through life with the gear of God on your back. Brush off the dust and use your Tide-to-Go pen and lent roller to get rid of the old stains and dirt that may have tarnished the words of the gospel, and live up to the striking and magnificent uniform God has given you. Remember to love people and yourself. Don’t forget to offer grace to others and yourself. As He is teaching the both of us, and coaching us through life, I pray we have open minds and hearts to hear His will and live it out for the fullness of His glory. I’m rooting for you.
Ephesians 4: 1-6 & 15-16
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”