Clothes Make the Man?–Mark 1:6

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. –Mark 1:6

Standing at the checkout stand at our local Wal-Mart on the first day of deer season, I noticed two men, probably father and son, dressed from head to foot in camouflage gear. Actually, I exaggerate. Besides their various Real-Tree togs, these guys had on hunter-orange hats, a sensible way to keep from getting a 30.06 bullet headed your way from a less-than-attentive hunter. Clearly, they had been out in the deer woods that morning. Their lack of euphoria suggested to me that they’d not filled their tags just yet.

As someone who has spent several fruitless hours waiting for Bambi to stroll into the crosshairs, I don’t mention the guys at the store to mock their lack of venison. Instead, I just wanted to point out that when you dress like a deer hunter, people can generally tell that you are a deer hunter.

Apparently that’s the reasoning behind Mark’s inclusion of these details about John the Baptist’s attire. What is the well-dressed prophet wearing today? Apparently it’s a hair garment and a leather belt. We learn in 2 Kings 1:8 that Elijah not only wore such an outfit but could be identified by it.

Of course, everybody who dresses in camouflage is not a deer hunter. Everyone who dresses like a prophet is not a prophet. In order to fill out their outfits, they both need to walk the walk, actually sitting in a deer stand with a rifle at dawn or dusk, or speaking the word of the Lord. When somebody dresses up in a particular way but doesn’t live the life that accompanies the clothing, we consider that person a pretender.

What does the well-dressed Christian wear these days? There doesn’t seem to be much of a dress code when it comes to following Christ. One family in my church, a father and two sons, typically come to church wearing Christian-messaged t-shirts. While their clothing choice doesn’t make them faithful followers, it does seem to place a burden of behavior on them. If these guys show up buying a truckload of beer or robbing a store, it’ll look about as out of character as the deer hunters buying Justin Bieber posters.

The vast majority of us have not been and never will be called as God’s prophets, but we do have a calling to follow. Dressing the part does not require anything terribly specific, but acting the part cannot be optional. May our words and deeds be ones that allow others to know who we are and whose we are.