Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT)
This week we are going to take a close look at what a well-dressed follower of Jesus Christ wears to church, work, school, on errands, and most importantly…at home, the place where you can’t fake it because your family already knows you.
When our girls were little they had “Dressy Bessy” dolls. Besides the fact that your children considered it a legal right under the Constitution to have a Dressy Bessy, they were good teaching tools. Little ones learned how to put an arm in a sleeve, or button a shirt. You dressed Bessy and in the doing you learned how to dress yourself.
Paul was writing to some Christians who had a reputation of being strong believers, well-clothed you might say, but they had a little problem understanding why they were to act differently than the world. Don’t we all have that little problem?
In his letter Paul suggests that the Christian’s attitude wardrobe should reflect being chosen, which means being different from the world. These attitudes and actions are what make us clothed as followers of Jesus. In short that means two things:
They were changed.
The early Christians were baptized as a sign of their willingness to change, be different. Men and women were baptized in different rooms, because the ceremony included stripping-off all clothing, and entering the pool naked. It was a signal that the old life had been stripped-away like a ragged garment. They were changed.
A story is told of a denomination that believed in baptismal sanctification (the moment you are baptized, you are sanctified, and therefore perfect -- you won't ever sin again). An older man got convicted, and decided to join the group. It was winter time and he wanted to be baptized right away; but the creek was frozen over. However, he had a great desire to be pure, so he convinced the deacons to baptize him. They cut a hole in the ice, took the old fellow out and dunked him in the hole, all the way – twice for good measure. As he came out the old man exclaimed, Oh, it's so wonderful. I'm sanctified. It's so wonderful; I don't even feel the cold. The head deacon said, Let's dunk him again,boys; he's still lyin'! The new believers were really changed, and…
They were clothed.
Once baptized the new convert was given a new robe to put on; it was a white robe, symbolizing the new relationship of purity in Christ, and it was a new robe, which made a stark comparison with the old which had been discarded.
There is a connection here that is hard to miss unless you’re living on another planet. Every day each and every one of us puts on our clothing. And we all have something in common about the way we do it. Without fail we put on our undergarments first, then our outer clothing…
(except Madonna, of course, who is goofy enough to wear her “unmentionables” where they get mentioned).
They call ‘em “foundational” garments, because they are the first things to go on the bare ground.
As we study the foundational garments of Christian living this week we need to keep in mind that Paul used the putting-on-your-clothes object lesson to teach some very important principles about living the Christian life. And we must remember that important principles never come cheaply!
Think about that out on your rocky road today, and have a great day!