Thoughts on the uniform
by Rob Reardon, Captain –
I love The Salvation Army uniform. I don’t care if people presume that I’m an airline pilot when walking through an airport, or if I’m mistaken for a bellhop at a hotel. Plain and simply, the uniform is an outward sign to society that I’m SAVED by the blood of Jesus Christ and I’m available to whomever is in need physically, emotionally or spiritually. Along the same line of thought, wearing the uniform in a privilege. Not a privilege similar to “club” membership or preferential treatment, but a privilege to be used by God to minister to all of humanity.
When I wear my uniform, I’m making a statement that carries with it simultaneous messages of integrity, commitment and accessibility. If any of those areas are lacking, then the uniform simply becomes a costume of sorts. The wearer is playing “dress-up” and is not standing by the message conveyed by the garment. 2 Timothy is clear in 2:3-5: “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs; rather, they try to please their commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” The Salvation Army has for its own good and the good of others certain rules and expectations for those wearing the uniform. If those rules aren’t lived and followed, then it’s simple—take the uniform off.
A friend of mine once said, “If I worked at Wendy’s I wouldn’t sell you Taco Bell!” The same is true as soldiers of The Salvation Army. If you call yourself a Salvationist and you wear the uniform, don’t try to sell me anything else! Any other doctrine or theology or any other belief or standard. If the soldier wearing the uniform isn’t following the rules of not only The Salvation Army, but of what the Bible clearly sets out as godly living, then step aside until you’re ready to do so!
Now there will be those who will say that rules are to be lived by, yes, but grace ought to reign supreme. I agree, but not to the detriment of the Christian witness and integrity of Biblical standards. Just before that passage above from 2 Timothy 2, we read that we are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1). Grace is free flowing, but it also has its expectations doesn’t it? This is covered in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Grace doesn’t give us license to live lives peppered with sin, but it provides the means to overcome sin and live lives of holiness and integrity.
This is what the uniform represents. It is not just another Sunday suit. It is not a “costume” by which we dress-up when necessary to feed the poor. It is a cloak of holiness and a means by which we can communicate to this dying world that there is hope in Christ. Wear it well!