LOVE – OR LEARN TO SEW

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 …

A friend of mine (I’ll call him Eric) stumbled onto an idea that I think would have a dramatic impact on the world, if we could get everybody to agree to it.

Eric was frustrated by the fact that we Christians don’t appear much different than the rest of the world. Not in terms of morality or behavior – what he meant is that you could be standing in line at Starbucks and nobody around you would guess that you are 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.

Anyway, 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 real 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 . . .

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5 Responses to LOVE – OR LEARN TO SEW

  1. Great post!
    I think where we get into trouble is when we try to love others based on their personal definition of what love is, because when we don’t, we are accused of not loving.

    So, I completely agree that we should love each other as God defines love, and not how we each do. We can do this by becoming familiar with God through His Word – even if that means that Christians start reading their Bibles. 😉

    Since they will know us by our love for each other, then the love must be different from what the world calls love.

    Thanks, Scott – something for us to think about!

    Also, for some reason I didn’t know you had a blog. Now I do!

    Bill

  2. Susan says:

    The penguin costume would make it hard to get a tan. I’m kind of practical about these things.

  3. Scott Riggan says:

    Thanks Bill – I agree. My point is really that “loving one another” would be radical and completely unlike the rest of the world. In terms of attracting the lost, it would be more effective than any seeker-friendly razzle-dazzle church service could hope to be.

    And Susan, I’m with you. Loving one another is hard, but I’m not eager to have to wear a penguin suit.

  4. Hmmm… Now, I absolutely love penguins, but a penguin suit would be hot and stuffy. I think I’ll go with “love”, it seems easier.

    Or is it? As you’ve said Scott, loving each other is something that is really pretty rare. I used to think I had that pretty well in hand; even though I occasionally get in spats(ok, fairly often 😉 with my siblings, I always showed love and made sure they knew I loved them. But that’s not the point is it? Love isn’t something to be practiced just with family, or even fellow believers. It’s something to be practiced with everyone you meet! I admit I struggle with showing love to my coworkers… People I’m doing my best to reflect God’s light to! But every time I get angry about closing not being done properly, every time I commiserate with our cook about the failures of the night shift, that just shows them how I’m not really dedicated to practice what I preach. Thank you for this reminder! Now to go find my penguin suit…

  5. Jennifer says:

    How do I get a penguin suit? I would proudly wear it if it got the Word out 🙂 Until then, I will continue to show love and compassion.

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