Custom-Made Faith: Celebrating Uniqueness in a “One Size Fits All” World
People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. I
Years of team sports and activities have taught me to appreciate the
importance of good uniforms. Uniforms are essential for
participants—for starters, they identify players as members of the
However, such “uniformity” isn’t easy to come by. The more fitted the
outfit, the more expertise required. It takes considerable knowledge
and skill from those adept at measuring, fitting and altering to
custom-tailor a single design for such an intricate variety of
Custom fitting . . . is best left to the experts.
As Christians, perhaps one of the greatest miscalculations we make is
when we try to outfit one another in “spiritual uniformity.” Even our
best efforts will be ill-fitting and uncomfortable. As scripture
points out, we are not qualified to take such measurements (Matthew 7:
1, Romans 2:1, Romans 14:4, 10). Too often we end up trying to
alter each other to conform to the uniform of our design.
Having just lost a loved one, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Grief
has the peculiar distinction of being both universal—and intensely
personal. As a result, I keep meeting amateur tailors determined to
outfit me in their particular brand of sackcloth. For all their loving
concern to see me warm and covered, such attentions do not “suit” me.
To begin with, this is not my first season on the Mourner’s Team. I
have put on this uniform before, and I know that grief, in order to be
worn graciously, must be custom-fit to the wearer. It’s not my
intention to reject the outfit—but I do insist on the prerogative to
try it on after my own fashion.
Meanwhile, I’ve been just as prone to try my hand at religious
When my dearly-departed dad was alive, our spiritual fashions often
clashed. He did not accessorize and model his faith like I did. Since
his uniform was not identical to mine, I sometimes questioned if he
was a legitimate member of the same team.
However, all my concern and criticism turned to worthless rags the
last time I saw him face-to-face. He was the very image of
reconciliation—a man clearly at peace with life, with death, with the
people he loved—and the God he trusted. At that moment, any spirit of
heaviness I may have had was completely replaced with a garment of
If I had any hidden doubts at all, they also fell away before this
precious keepsake I received only days after my father’s death. For a
man of great style and bearing, this humble token was one of his most
prized possessions. He carried it with him at all times. I’m told that
the very worst moment of his illness came when he had to leave it
behind (along with any other metal objects) for a medical procedure.
Now I keep it close, a treasured and tangible reminder of Divine
reassurance that my father’s faith was no mere accessory. He only
refused to parade it around for the approval of others. He was clearly
marked as God’s own, whether others acknowledged his uniform or not.
If experiences of late have taught me anything, it is that I am no
tailor. My best efforts at evangelism will be shrugged off—and rightly
so—whenever I care more about the uniform than the wearer. Maybe the
best I can do is model faith with style and grace. I am not equipped
to clothe others in the Gospel. That I leave to the One with the
knowledge and skill to custom-fit each individual member of His team.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has
clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his
righteousness. Isaiah 61:10