During my junior season at University of Georgia, some of us players went to Coach Richt with a request. After wearing the same uniform pants Saturday after Saturday we wanted to add a little variety to our game day uniforms. Past Georgia teams had worn different combinations of black and red jersey and pants and we felt our current uniform choices were getting rather monotonous. In response to our request Coach Richt said we would continue wearing our silver britches so that when people watched us and they saw those Silver Britches they would know that “we are Georgia.”
You see, the silver britches debuted under Coach Wally Butts in 1939 and by the 50’s the phrase “Go, you Silver Britches” was etched in UGA lore. In 1964 however, new Head Coach Vince Dooley scrapped the silver britches for plain white pants, only to reintroduce them in 1980, my birth year, and the year they celebrated their second National Championship. Like the hedges and the bulldog, the Silver Britches unmistakably identified us as Georgia Bulldogs. Since I’ve graduated, Coach Richt has permitted a few alternative uniform color combinations. Recent Saturdays in Athens have seen the occasional black pant and jersey but the Silver Britches are and will continue to be a UGA tradition.
There is a popular Christian song with the chorus “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Like a Georgia Bulldog’s Silver Britches, love should be an overwhelming characteristic of the Christian. Jesus states, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Scripture makes it abundantly clear that the love of God and the love of people should permeate our lives. The love of God sets the stage for all aspects of love in our lives. God is a God of order. He created love, four different types of them, three of which are mentioned in scripture. In order for us to love our spouses, family, neighbor, strangers and even enemies we must love him first. That’s why the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all heart, soul and strength. According to Jesus, we know we love God by keeping His commandments. (John 14:21) Many of us say we love God, but live contrary to his principles. We have affection for God but don’t want to alter our agendas even though he first loved us. God demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were sinners he sent his son to die for us. Not because it FELT good to see Jesus bear our sin in a horrific death, but because he loved us. THIS is the self-sacrificial love we are to exhibit to one another as friends of Christ.
In the Greek, this type of love is translated ‘Agape’. Agape love incites action on behalf of the subject. It prompts us to obedience. Unlike our popular idea of love, it doesn’t always feel good or give you warm fuzzies inside. Agape love is an exercise of the will. Before he ascended into heaven Jesus told his disciples that men would know they were his followers by their love. In fact he commanded them to love one another. When we love one another he is pleased and we experience the joy he desires us to have. This joy comes when we put ourselves aside and put others first. Jesus put it like this; “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12,13). We are called to imitate Christ’s example of sacrificial love by making a conscious decision to love others. In case the disciples didn’t get it the first time Jesus repeats himself in a few verses later. “This is my command: Love each other.” Like those silver britches our love should be a distinguishing mark that identifies us as a follower of Christ.
Scripture warns us that no matter what one may confess, a life without love for fellow man is a life void of love for God. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” As former enemies of God how can we, after experiencing his unmerited favor, not show love to our neighbor? Since God loved us, we should love one another. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s a lifestyle, and a hard one at that! I don’t know about your life but some people are hard to love! It requires a conscious decision to act. It requires a conscious decision to see people as God does. We show this love in how we respond when offended and mistreated. We show love when we care enough about people to get out of our comfort zone and boldly tell people about the Gods plan of salvation. We show love when we lay aside our pride, confess our transgressions and ask for forgiveness. We show love when we pray for and confront our brothers and sisters who are caught in sin. We exercise agape when we feed the hungry or clothe the naked. Whether it’s your time, money, or ambition, love will usually require that you put someone else above yourself. Love others with an eternal perspective because people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
There is much confusion in the world today about what true love is. Young men and women alike are searching for validation and acceptance in a world that thinks lust is true love. They will go to great lengths to be “loved” sometimes at their own peril. Lives are being destroyed because we don’t know what love is. We’ve bought the lie that love is a feeling that we can fall in and out of. This “love” albeit exciting for a season, is selfish, deceiving, and ultimately unfulfilling. The word love is so sexually loaded many of us know of no other kind. The truth is that without agape, eros (passionate love) is like a loaded gun in the hand of a toddler. Love is one of Gods greatest gifts. The ability to love is what sets us apart from all other creation as image bearers of God. My prayer is that I continue to learn to love like Christ so he can use me to the fullest. I’ve got a very long way to go! (I tend to hold grudges and be generally unloving at times). When people come to church, they should see love in action and because of it, be drawn to a relationship with Jesus. It’s not always easy but it is our calling and our duty to show love to a world Satan is continually lying to.
To generations of loyal fans, the Sliver Britches have been a distinguishing mark of Georgia Football. Christians, we have a calling card too. Let’s be known by our love!
For more distinguishing marks and characteristics of love, check out the “Love” chapter, 1 Corinthians 13.