RECENTLY, there has been debate about a church uniform being sacred. The profound question is: â€œwhat is in a uniform?â€
A number of churches have their men and women adorn uniforms. Churches have now come to be associated with their type and colour of uniform and for the congregants who do not wear uniforms, it is not easy to place them until one hears it from them.
The focus of this write-up is not the origin of a church uniform but whether it is sacred garb and if so how does it become sanctified?
Sundays and Saturdays present us with an array of church uniforms in their colours and styles. The prominent coloursÂ are blue, white, black, red, purple.
I want to believe that those of their forefathers who settled for these colours had their own reasons but it is obvious what some of the colours represent.
For example, blue represents love, though we may not know whether it is the love between the congregants or the love of God.
Red is without doubt, the blood of Christ while purple represents royalty, as seen from the Bible.
I want to believe that each congregation is at liberty in settling for the colour of its choice the members will adorn as a uniform. After all even in our everyday life, we personally make choices of colours we prefer.
Uniforms, like for schools, have become identities for those churches that adopt them as their attire for church services. In Zambia, the uniform has extended from a Sunday or Saturday church service to a funeral service.
It is for this reason that we see members of certain churches arrayed in their church uniforms during weekdays. For most part, we conclude they are either visiting a member of their cell group or they were attending a funeral.
The question remains: Is the church uniform sacred? The dictionary meaning of sacred is â€œconnected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving venerationâ€. Veneration simply means â€œgreat respect or reverenceâ€.
There is no doubt a church uniform is used for church purposes, but what can we say about a car we use for church purposes? This car is only used on Sundays to take us to church because it accommodates the whole family of eight.
Can we say that this car has become sacred because of its purpose on Sunday? I do not think so.
I am not a theologian but this is what I have come across in my reading. For some, sacred (holiness, as some would call it), means where God is. For example, the burning bush was sacred because Godâ€™s presence was there. Before the bush was on fire, it was like any other bush in the wild.
The God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the temple in the old testament times and this is why this place was holy. For human beings, God makes them holy because his spirit dwells in them. So then can we say he dwells in the uniform? Nay!
When we go beyond treating the uniform as ordinary attire, we begin to idolise clothing by wrongly placing this higher value on it.
Perhaps the higher value is placed on the uniform because of the process of attaining it, which I have seen, may not be easy in some instances.
Let us get a cue from the Bible where there was no uniform for the first Christians in the Acts. All those who got saved, as we see, did not have any special uniform in which they served God.
The Christians of that time professed faith after repenting of their sins and from their lives, it was evident they were changed people. What then changed about these people? It was their hearts, I submit.
This is the religion we need in our day, the religion of the heart and not that of wearing a uniform. The uniform cannot make us holy. We are made holy when the spirit of God dwells in our hearts.
Little wonder we have heard some people, in a fit of rage, retort: â€œI would have showed you what I am made of but for the uniform I am wearingâ€. Does this make the uniform holy?