Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love the Salvation Army Uniform

This is a personal blog. The views on this blog do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners. The views on this blog are solely of those making them, based on the teachings of the Bible, in the Spirit.

In the Salvation Army there are various levels of involvement, including adherents, soldiers, and officers.  Adherents agree to the doctrines of the Salvation Army, soldiers make a further covenant, to abstain from certain practices like gambling, alcohol, and drug use.  Officers are ordained leaders of the Salvation Army churches and facilities.  

Part of serving in the Salvation Army is wearing the uniform. Adherents wear a red blazer, soldiers wear the uniform with the blue epaulets, and officers wear the uniform with the red epaulets. 

Some prefer that the army begin to phase out the uniform. Others like myself support the uniform. We are all part of the army of God, disagreements and all. But these are my top ten reasons why I love the uniform. Could it be updated in some ways? Perhaps. Could it be a bit more ascetically pleasing? Sure. But it ought to remain, in my humble view. Here's why:

1. When I look at my fellows serving in their uniforms I'm reminded that I'm part of an army, with a united mission, and with a hierarchy of leadership. This is a wise and good thing. It reminds me that I'm part of a team, a unity, that is distinct from the world.

2. Putting on the uniform is like putting on my spiritual armor. I've made a practice of praying the armor of God each day as I serve. When I put on the uniform in the morning, I hold great peace and joy, and courage as I don the uniform, knowing God is with me. Though the uniform is simply clothing, it reminds me of the spiritual armor I wear underneath.

3. The Uniform forces me to stand out - Most of the time I don't want to stand out. Most of the time I want to hide my light, if I'm honest with myself. I just want to quietly go into the gas station, or grocery store, and get my stuff and go home. The uniform forces me to stand out. It forces me to engage with curious strangers. It forces me to declare a clear distinction from the world.

4. The uniform reminds me that the Salvation Army is more than a church, the Salvation Army is a movement, it's a force for good, it's a army of the gospel! I love the concept of a united army winning the world for Christ.

5. The uniform let's people know we are here - People in communities across the USA and the world see the uniform and they know they can come up to that person and ask for help or prayer. I've gotten stopped by strangers, at kettles, and at airports with people asking me about the Salvation Army.

6. The uniform looks good - The uniform looks sharp. Serving in the ARC ministry, I've had some men ask about how to get a uniform, and it gave me a chance to share about Jesus, the word of God, and serving in the Salvation Army.

7. The blue soldier's uniform indicates that the person has made a covenant before God to abstain from certain things, alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, and so on. This invites accountability, which is needed in our day and age, and it also calls newcomers and seekers to the way of holiness, and the way of being "set apart" for service to Christ. This doesn't imply inequality, no, but a calling to true biblical Christianity, which is a calling to holiness.

8. The red officer's uniform declares that a person has made a covenant to serve Christ in full time ministry. This is a beautiful and humbling thing. It is our "priestly garb" in a way. This shouldn't imply that the uniform has any special power, but it does declare who that person is and what they've worked for. The red uniform declares a ministry of humble service to the lost.

9. The uniform declares an outward expression of an inward reality - I'm part of a fighting army of Christian heroes for Christ. I think about what it would be like in a corps without anyone wearing the uniform, and honestly, it would lose some of the magic and synergy of the Salvation Army zeal and passion that centers around a Holy, Living Spirit of God marching to the ends of the Earth for the living gospel.

10. The uniform is a vital piece of the puzzle of the historic Salvation Army - The uniform set the Salvation Army apart. It's not lost it's value or meaning. It's not become anachronistic. In fact, tens of thousands across the continent of Africa march in the uniform proudly serving Christ and marching to the beat of a different drum. The Salvation Army is growing by leaps in bounds in various parts of the world, like Africa and Asia, and the uniform hasn't harmed that growth, but blessed it.