Being together has its plusses and its minuses. What for the social butterfly, is a spectacular benefit, for the introverted researcher, it becomes a tolerated burden. Even ignoring our temperamental proclivities, sometimes the company of others is wanted (in personal need), and sometimes that same company of others is unwanted (when the personal need is accountability). Beyond this is the question, together, with who? Some company is better than other company. Being together, after all, has its plusses and its minuses. The Bible tells us, however, that together-ness is written into the fabric of who we are as Christians.
In 1856 a 21-year-old draper, textile merchant, opened his small shop in the small town of Basingstoke in Southeast England. Since 1920, three years after the founder retired to a quiet life in the country, his company began inserting into its raincoats a cream and tan plaid with red and black accents. The Burberry Nova check has become iconic, for better or for worse. The plaid marks everything from scarves to wedding dresses to luxury car interiors. Woven into each Nova check display, tasteful or not, genuine or counterfeit, is Burberry. The fabric itself says, “Burberry.”
Christian togetherness is “the association of believers in the experience of their common salvation or in the various consequences, expressions, and benefits of salvation (Bromiley, ISBE, 752).” Put another way, this togetherness is “the communion or common faith, experiences, and expressions shared by the family of believers (Myers, EBD, 380).” In just these two definitions, listed to the vocabulary of Christian life: association, common, communion, family. The terminology of togetherness is all over the Bible. Of Acts 4.32, John Frame says of New Testament believers, they “shared their hearts, they shared their souls, and they shared their property (Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord, 264).” Togetherness is woven into the Christian life just like “Burberry” is woven into their patented plaid. It is just not possible to be a Christian and shun togetherness.
This fabric of togetherness is interwoven in the Christian life at creation; God’s own opinion is that aloneness is not good. Togetherness is interwoven in generational succession as instruction and example spreads through families. It’s interwoven in the life of Christian community through fellowship and sympathy. It’s interwoven in otherwise common relationships as Christian faith is displayed before others. It’s interwoven in invitation to strangers through hospitality and care and evangelism. It’s interwoven in the fabric of praise and worship, a body of togetherness that will greet Him at the Second Coming. Togetherness is in the fabric!
Burberry was not meant to be the decorative pop-art that it is today. Thomas Burberry was motivated to make tough, resilient, waterproof garments for the hardworking middle-class folks of Hampshire. Two decades into business his fame rose exponentially as his gabardine pants and coats proved able to resist not only wind, rain, and cold, but also tears that would destroy other fabric. It was fitting that Thomas Burberry’s logo was a knight on horseback wearing blade repellant armor. Even Shackleton wore Burberry. In 1912, Burberry invented the Tielocken coat, one strap, one buckle, one collar button, and very strong. Two years later he added epaulettes to carry gear, D-rings for grenades, a flap of gabardine to cover a gun, and a heavy storm shield.
For Thomas Burberry, his fabric, plaid or no plaid, was not about glam. Ever. It was about survival. His coat was a coat for life in the trenches and worn by thousands of soldiers. The fabric says “Burberry” because the fabric serves those engaged in battle. Dear saints, the Christian fabric says “togetherness” because we need this to live. It’s in the fabric, and the fabric is tough. We’re separated from one another, we’re in the trenches, we’re striving to exercise togetherness, but have no fear. The Maker of this fabric knows what He’s doing.
~ Pastor Jones