Uniforms have several purposes. First, it helps to be able to identify at a glance who your teammates are. If the quarterback threw to the wrong receiver, or the point guard passed to the wrong center, chaos would ensue.
Second, everyone wearing the same colors helps develop unity, and motivates the players to do their best for one another. It also fosters a sense of equality. Everyone wears the uniform, not just the star players.
For a couple of years now I have seen some college football teams wearing odd uniforms splotched with camouflage here and there, and with “names” like Honor, Courage, Integrity, Commitment, Service, and Duty sewn on the back where ordinarily the player’s name would have been. I have discovered that this is a joint effort with the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit organization supplying programs and services to injured servicemen and their families. After the game, the uniforms are auctioned off and 100% of the proceeds go to the project.
What a worthy endeavor, yet wearing those uniforms has caused some amusement among sportscasters. At least twice I have seen “Integrity” commit a personal foul, and don’t believe for a minute that the announcers ignored all the possible jokes they could make about it.
That made me wonder what would happen if Christians wore uniforms. As much as I hate the way we take those lists we find in the New Testament (fruit of the Spirit, Christian “graces,” etc.) ignoring them as a comprehensive unit, and using them instead like individual casseroles on a buffet line from which we can pick and choose, what if one of those traits were printed on the backs of our jerseys? Would people find our actions so amusing? If “self-control” became angry and threw something across the room, if “mercy” gave as good (or as bad?) as he got, if “kindness” snarled at someone in his way, how would that effect the way others view the faith we so casually claim?
Wait a minute! This might actually be good for us. If each one of us had the trait we have the most difficulty with posted on our backs, maybe we would be aware every minute of the day and actually behave a little better. For you see, that is the problem with most of us. We go through our lives without thinking; we just react, and that is when the “automatic” happens instead of the new characteristic we are supposed to be developing. If we wore that jersey every day for a month, don’t you suppose “automatic” would become the right thing instead of the wrong thing?
So today, think what needs to be written on your back—not the thing you find easiest, but the thing you find the hardest to do, and pretend it is there every minute of the day. You see, your friends and neighbors are not ignorant of the personality a Christian is supposed to exhibit, and they know where you fall short. They see that very word on your back every moment and it is what they use as an excuse when you try to recruit them. Why would they want to be on a team where Integrity cheats on his taxes, where Commitment ogles the women in the office, and where Service never did a thing for anyone if it didn’t offer him a good return?
Put on your uniform every day. Remember what is written on your back, and do your best to live up to it.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil 2:14,15.