Wearing Christ Inside and Out

ImageSt. Paul writes to the Colossians on how we are made new creations in Christ. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

He extends the image of the new creation later in the chapter (Colossians 3:12-17) when he writes about the clothing of the holy and beloved. The clothing of Christ on the outside includes compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. When wearing this outside clothing I will bear with one another. If I have complaint against anyone I will forgive them. 

But I struggle with how to live with this clothing. For instance I find it very difficult to forgive others when I have seen so clearly their wickedness. I get tired of people and their drama. In these words from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians I know God has invited me to put on Christ, but there are moments when I look down at myself and discover that my clothing has worn out. I look at my flesh and bones and I wonder what has become of this promised new creation in Christ.

My compassionate heart gets ready to burst because it becomes so unhealthy with my own anger. My kindness has holes in it from when I have been burned by the deceitfulness of others. My humility has been turned inside out and I find myself full of pride in my own vain works. My meekness gets covered with a designer label of my desire to be in charge. My patience has become thread bare in the endless cycle of evil I must witness in this world.

 

My clothing wears out. Paul has invited me to put on Christ, yet I look around and I find that His robes have become torn and tattered. The simple joy of being loved in Christ has become adorned with my ostentatious self love.

Over the course of my days I have gathered into my wardrobe all sorts of clothing that is not of Christ.

I am going to do so cleaning. I know that exercise clothing after a while gets stinky no matter how much I wash it. The special fibers that make this clothing wick away the sweat from my body gets clogged with my gunk. No matter how much I use the detergent on the shelf in the laundry room the stink will not wash away. When the stink gets to much to even run by myself, I throw out the stink.

St. Paul says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” I put away my own sinful self. I repent. I cannot walk around adorned with my own good works. Sweet Jesus keep me close to you as I put away my sin. Keep me close as my nakedness becomes exposed. I am fearful of how others will see me.  

When my tattered and torn spiritual garments are revealed, I must trust in Christ. I trust in His grace to cloth me. I trust in his compassion to cover me. I trust in his mercy to make me knew. I trust in his meekness to serve me even while I am yet still a sinner. I trust in his patience to work through me, even while I daily struggle in the temptations of my flesh.

I trust in the love of Christ. Even while I am falling apart He binds me up in His love. I don’t match with what He has designed for his creation, but I put on love, “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). He brings me back into harmony with God’s plans.

All of the outside clothing I put on (compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience) is only possible because the peace of Christ rules in my heart. St. Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

The devil will work to first convince me that I am dressed appropriate for the kingdom when I try to put on my own good works. When I witness the vanity of trying to enter the kingdom of God wearing my own good works, the devil then works to convince me that I do not deserve to wear the clothing God is trying to provide me. I will not let the devil convince me of the fruitfulness of my own good works. I will not let the devil convince me of the deep despair of my own sinfulness. I say to that wicked foe, “I am a baptized child of God, I have been raised from my despair by Jesus Christ.”

I can speak so confidently to that evil foe because I do not speak with my own words. I am trusting the word of Christ that has come in the flesh. My savior Jesus love me. I sing the song of the redeemed because I stand on what my savior has done for me.

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