Every Friday morning, I meet with a group of guys from our church here, and we play a round of golf together. It never fails that one of those guys will make some comment about my dress. For you see, I normally wear a red shirt with a red cap, and somewhere on that shirt or cap is an Ohio State logo. My golf cart has a big Ohio State logo on the front, and my golf bag is an OSU-emblazoned bag. One of the fellows in that group is a Xichigan fan who will, just to counter my obviously-biased approach, wear maize and blue colors. And a couple of others will wear their favorite Spartan green hats and logos supporting Xichigan State. Throw in a couple of Illinois and Purdue representatives and the Big 10 conference is very well represented at our weekly golf outing.
Now I must admit that these days I am rather proud of my alma mater. I must also admit that there are times when I am not so proud of her. But there is another aspect that comes with my choice of wardrobe for the day. Do you ever remember your mother or father saying to you before you went out on a date or out on the town with your friends, “Remember who you are. Do us proud!” I remember my own mother telling me not to do anything to disgrace our family name. Well, it is the same thing with respect to the OSU stuff that I wear. Wearing the Ohio State logo is not only a matter of me being proud of her but also a matter of her being proud of me. I remember the days when I was a student at TOSU (THE Ohio State University!) and a member of the OSU Men’s Glee Club. Our uniform for the day was a blue blazer with the OSU logo on the pocket. Our director used to say to us, “Remember, wherever you go and whatever you do, so long as you are wearing that blazer, you are representing The Ohio State University!” But then he followed that comment with one even more telling: “And remember as well, that whether you are wearing the blazer or not, you are representing the university! Don’t do anything to embarrass yourself or the university!”
I was reminded of that very fact one Thanksgiving Day several years ago before our move to the state of Florida, when my bride and I decided that, since our children were otherwise occupied, we would take a short Thanksgiving Day dinner cruise on the Ohio River. We boarded the riverboat and begin to eat. The meal was good, but I enjoyed watching the people even more. And there was a fellow on that boat who was there with his extended family celebrating Thanksgiving Dinner and enjoying the cruise. This man reminded me of Santa Claus. Now he was not wearing “the uniform,” but you could tell that this gentleman indeed was used to that role in his life. That was especially brought into focus when a man and his son approached this gentleman and remarked that they had been coming on this same cruise for years and had observed that he and his family had been doing so as well. The visitor then asked the man if his son could sit on his lap and tell him what he wanted for Christmas so that the dad could get a picture of his son on Santa’s knee. One of the reasons this was so memorable was that the son had to be fourteen or fifteen years old. “Santa,” even though he was not in “uniform,” obliged, and the picture was taken, and everyone departed with a good laugh and a memory to add to their collection. You see, Santa was still Santa, no matter what uniform he was wearing!
My friends, I am also convinced that this is the truth for all of us. No matter what we do or where we go, we are representing someone or something. It may be our family or our school or our employer but wherever we go, we are representatives for Someone far greater than ourselves. And what is true physically is also true spiritually. The Bible tells us we are ambassadors for Christ. (Check out 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). To be an ambassador is to be an official representative for the sovereign leader of the nation. This means that if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, then no matter where you are, no matter where you go, no matter what you are wearing, just like an ambassador of the United States, you are representing Christ.
Oftentimes, especially when we are wearing the logo of our favorite university, we do not think about our role in representing Christ. We are not even necessarily thinking about our role in representing the university. But it is true. It may not be official, but the way we live our lives — the things we say, the places we go, the things we do — all of these cast a long shadow over the course of the institution that we represent. And when we claim to follow Christ, THAT is a logo that we cannot remove. No matter what we may try to do to get rid of that designation, we are always wearing that logo of Jesus, and there is nothing you can do to get rid of it.
While on the one hand that may be a great relief, on the other hand, that is a tremendous responsibility. Just like that Santa, you do not have to be wearing your Sunday uniform to be counted as someone who is a follower of Jesus. Therefore, the question I need to leave you with this day is: What kind of an ambassador for Christ are you? Does your life measure up?
Your answers will make a difference for all eternity.
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.