Where’s your uniform?
Uniforms are a big thing here. Unlike the Western country on my passport, where people love to rage against uniforms, screaming and protesting that uniforms hinder individuality and personal expression, the Thai love to wear uniforms.
Uniforms give one a sense of belonging to something larger than oneself. They allow for a bond of commonality. They open the door for getting to know someone: “Oh, your child goes to Jirasat School, too?” Uniforms give safe, visible marks of growing up and rites of passage: the uniforms for kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, and college are markedly different. They communicate very clearly where one works. Many Thai strive to become government workers. Imagine their pride and sense of accomplishment the first day they don their civil servant uniform!
Church members love to have matching polo shirts, with their church’s logo on the front pocket, and maybe a Bible verse on the back. “I identify with this group,” that polo proclaims. “I am a part of something. I recognize my need for others, our interdependence, the joy we have together, the fact that we as a whole are greater than I alone.”
Those of us who identify as belonging to Christ have a uniform to put on, as well. “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” instructs Colossians 3:14.
I’m afraid some days I forget to put on my uniform of love. Or, I try to throw it on in a hurry, and it’s slip-shod the whole day. There have even been days when I have willfully chosen to put on other things rather than this uniform that the Father has so graciously provided. True enough, His uniform sometimes feels like death. Part of me would much rather wallow, steam, growl, hold a grudge, assume the worst, or lose my temper. It’s so much easier. But, only the way of love sets me free. It opens the way for the intimacy I long for with my family and friends, smoothens my interactions with coworkers, and sets me free from the death-vise of hating my enemies.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Beyond the world recognizing who we are, our uniform of love also gives us a way to know each other. We’re on the same team. We’re in the same army. We’re servants in the same household. We’re priests of the same covenant. We’re brothers and sisters of the same family.
In this country, I am surrounded by those whose daily apparel tells me where they go to school, where they work, where they belong.
Did I put my uniform on today?
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