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Dressed to Impress
Clothing makes a statement.
In the video game world, players love to deck themselves out with custom "skins" or clothing.
My son is currently into Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo. If you search #ACNHdesigns on Twitter, you'll see thousands of people showing off their custom-made clothing. Many have virtual Etsy-like shops to share or sell their digital swag....
Aside from games, we all love a good outfit. Whether it's for a wedding, a first date, or the first day of school, we want to dress our best. To show off who we are as person.
As well, clothing is a status symbol.
In the time of Christ, how you were clothed matched your role as servant, solider, priest, or emperor. This is why the disciples were shocked as Christ "took on the form of a servant" before their final Passover meal. He disrobed and washed their feet.
Your Wardrobe in Christ
Paul uses clothing as a metaphor for casting off the old self and its evil desires and putting on Christ instead. Through Jesus you have been adopted into God's family. Though made in His image, you are being renovated back into that image through the power of Christ.
Until Christ returns, Paul says we are to be clothed with Christ. He then expands what this should look like for you....
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves in tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience—bearing with one another and forgiving each other, if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord pardoned you, so also you must pardon others. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14 (TLV)
Your wardrobe as a follower of Christ should be fashioned after the heart of Christ.
Though clothing is a personal symbol in our culture, being clothed in Jesus is a communal connection. Each piece of the wardrobe requires someone else to love. Someone to show deference. Someone to elevate and to dignify. Someone to forgive.
In fact, Jesus prayed this exact same thing for you and rest of the Church....
"I pray not on behalf of these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their message, that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us, so the world may believe that You sent Me.
"The glory that You have given to Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me."
John 17:20-23 (TLV)
When Paul urged the Colossians to dress in compassion, his end goal was to see their "bond of perfect harmony" come to pass. He's borrowing the same word as Jesus when He said, "that they may be perfected in unity."
In Greek, "perfected" implies full maturity. Completeness. Wholeness. Reaching the end. It doesn't carry the weight our culture places on the word "perfection," to have all your ducks-in-a-row, to be someone worth admiring at all times.
Our culture urges you to dress to impress, not to serve like Christ.
Dressed like the King
So, here's the rub. These verses are liberating, but they also carry a huge responsibility.
Jesus literally prayed for you, me, and the rest of the Church to be "perfected in unity." And our King adds an interesting closer to that: "...so that the world may know that You [the Father] sent Me and loved them as You loved Me."
In other words, the world knowing Christ and the Father's love depends 100% on the Church being clothed in Christ. Dressing in compassion and humility. Walking like Jesus walked.
Christ prayed for the Church. Paul aimed his plea to the Church. So, what I'm about to share is for the American Church...
Christian, Clothe Yourself with Compassion
What are you dressing yourself with? That's the most important question.
If the American Church were fully dressed in Christ, would we be seeing racism, nationalism, and hatred taking hold like it is?
Christ was concerned with the world knowing Him by means of His Body, the world-wide group of believers. But, when the world looks at American Christianity, what do they see?
Do those on the outside see the Christ of the Bible living through us?
According to research from USC, they've observed five main groups of evangelicals in America:
- Trump-vangelicals are vocal supporters of, well—you guessed it.
- Neo-fundementalists are not as cozy with the current administration yet still embrace much of its ideologies.
- iVangelicals are mega-church followers who embrace a seeker-sensitive approach to evangelism.
- Kingdom Christians are concerned with "shaping human development."
- Peace and Justice evangelicals care about social issues such as poverty.
So, did one of those titles rub you the wrong way? Make you stand up and think, Hey now, I don't really fit into one of those!
Well, me too.
But, here's where I want all of us to pause and look inwardly:
How are our lives being dressed in Christ and acted upon in delightful obedience?
If the world is not seeing a united, Biblical group of Christians in America, then we all need some soul-searching. Some repentance. Some humility.
If our immediate response is, "Hey, back off! I'm totally an amazing Christian!" and then turn back to our political idols, then we will miss Jesus' prayer for us.
Right now, we have an opportunity to dress—not in nationalism or in anger—but in the humble wardrobe of our King.
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