I lived for some years near an airforce training place and would often come across the recruits on the road on their days of leave. You could readily identify them by what they wore and how they looked – their own special civvies, their cropped hair, fit bodies and lean, tanned faces. People would generally move to the side and give them space, in respect knowing they were being trained to guard the nation and perhaps, one day, lay down their lives.
My father was a police officer and I would watch the way he wore his uniform, with pride and dignity. He was always conscious of being part of the domestic protection force of the nation, and never did anything that would taint his uniform.
My husband and daughter are both law graduates and postgraduates, practicing advocates in our city’s courts. I have seen them use their black robes as the mark of their profession in the discharge of their duties within the court premises.
The Bible talks about God’s people being clothed with a particular and peculiar dress: Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful (Col 3:12-13, 15 NLT).
Israel, as God’s chosen people, were given a dress code that identified and set them apart as the nation belonging to Yahweh (Refer Deuteronomy). For that matter, every nation has its own ethnic attire which they flaunt in sports meets and other cultural events. Corporate companies and colleges have ethic outfit days or special days for such wear.
They do it only once in a while, but Christ’s disciples and followers are enjoined to wear their special wear, every minute and every hour ofevery day of every year.
In the city of Antioch so long go, something distinct happened when the good news of Christ reached the city.
According to the Relevant Magazine (link below), Antioch was referred to as “all the world in one city,” where you could see all the world’s richness and diversity in one place.
The Church came to Antioch and began breaking down the dividing barriers in a way that upset the society’s existing categories. People from all parts of the city – Jews and Gentiles alike – were suddenly coming together. This group of people was redefining community in a radical and unprecedented way, so much so, that a new word was needed to categorise what in the world was happening.The early church was called “Christians” by the powers-that-be for the first time in Antioch (Acts 11:26). It wasn’t a name Jesus’ disciples gave themselves—it was a name given to them by the society in Antioch.
Technically, the ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of,” so the term “Christians” meant those of Jesus’ party.
It is often assumed that the name “Christian” was given somewhat flippantly or even derogatively by these powers-that-be—a sort of dismissive wave of the hand to those “little Christs.” The emphasis, however, inherent in the original Greek, is on the fact that people from outside the faith recognised Christians as a distinct group.
Just as the dress code and dress culture of the uniformed forces, the judiciary, the office-bearers of the legislative, those serving in the hospitality industry and others, bear testimony to the nature of their call and work, Christians are meant to be identified by a natural code of nature. By their very demeanor and their behavior as well as attitude, they are to be spotted and singled out as followers of Christ.
A dress code is defined as a set of rules, often written, with regard to what clothing groups of people must wear. Dress codes are created out of social perceptions and norms, and vary based on purpose, circumstances, and occasions. When you are participating in certain functions, entering some fancy restaurants, recognised as one of a team (sports), part of a club, etc., a dress code is insisted upon for recognition and identification.
That God expects us to adopt a certain convention is evident in the Bible, as signifying that we belong to Him and bear His Name as His family.
The question is whether you are evident to all by the very manner you deal with people, circumstance, possessions, etc.
As the song by Peter Scholtes declares: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love!
Are you clothed as God expects you to be that makes you significant in society as His adherent?
Or are you found to be unclothed, so to speak, even though you call yourself His!