My friend Eric decided that Christians need some kind of uniform so that everyone around us can tell we’re followers of Jesus. He figured it would need to be something drastic and unmistakable. His brilliant idea for a uniform? Penguin suits. You have to admit that would definitely get people’s attention …
Say you’re standing in line at Starbucks. I’m pretty sure nobody around you could guess that you’re a follower of Jesus by just 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?
Unfortunately, there’s little on the outside of us that can truly reveal what we believe about God. Even things like the Jesus Fish or the Christian T-shirt don’t really communicate anything meaningful (please don’t send me hate mail for this – hear me out!), since most of our Christian cultural shorthand has been misused so often that it doesn’t always convey what we might hope.
So back to Eric. He was frustrated with this situation so – creative fellow that he is – he came up with a unique solution. Eric decided we should all wear some kind of uniform to help identify ourselves as followers of Jesus.
Specifically, he proposed that we all should wear 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/store/school/restaurant/construction site . . . No question, it 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:
“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)
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 our LOVE.
Not obvious enough, you say? Well, I’ll agree that the Penguin Suit 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 …