The Red Badge Of Courage is a book about Civil War soldier Henry Fleming, who deserts his battalion to save his own skin. As a result of his cowardice, Henry is injured and begins bleeding when a cannon operator hits him because Henry won’t let go of his arm. Feeling incredibly guilty, Henry returns to his unit. His comrades see the blood, surmise that he must have been grazed by a bullet, and consider him a courageous hero.
In my Christian experience, I have come in contact with groups who created their own “Red Badges” of spirituality, holiness, etc. Like the blood on Henry’s bandage, the source of these badges were not important, only the badges themselves.
For example, to one group, poverty was the badge. Poor people were exalted. The rich were frowned upon. The “hows” and “whys” didn’t matter. If you were poor yourself and ministered to the poor, you were in… otherwise, you were out.
Interestingly, I’ve also been exposed to those whose badge is wealth. To them, affluence and associating with the affluent is a badge of acceptance. The opposite is an indicator of deeper problems.
Many other “badges” could be substituted. Certain food and drink, or the avoidance of them. Various habits. Patterns of speech. Modes of dress. Political views. Education. Occupations.
Through all this I’ve formed a conclusion… there are no external badges of any kind that are of any consequence at all. God sees the heart. I can’t see the heart. All I can do is try to love.