It’s something we all think about every day…some more than others! My daughter definitely spends WAY more time thinking about her clothing then my son. She likes to coordinate her outfits and make sure things look neat and tidy. Whereas he opens his shorts drawer and picks the one on top (no matter the weather!), then opens his t-shirt drawer and picks the one on top (no matter the weather!) and puts them on…no matter how they look together! That boy is hilarious and I LOVE his lack of concern about what he wears and what others think about him. I could learn a lot from that kid!
But, every morning we get dressed and “present ourselves” to the world in a certain way. Clothing says a lot about who we are, what we like and how we want people to perceive us.
I’ve been reading through Galatians with Timothy Keller in his book, “Galatians For You”. It’s been SO good! I love Paul and how much He loved Jesus and wanted others to know Him and keep things simple.
Galatians 3:26-28 talks about clothing. It says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Keller brings up four amazing points that Paul is implying here by the use of “clothing ourselves with Christ”.
1. Our primary identity is in Christ…not our outward appearance or how people perceive us. We are Christ’s. Keller goes on to say that “Nearly every kind of clothing is a uniform and identifies us with others of the same gender, social class or national group. But to say that Christ is our clothing is to say that our ultimate identity is found in Christ and who HE says I am.” Christ calls us His beloved, righteous, holy, His kids, redeemed, and more. That is who we are! – no matter our attire, no matter our income, gender or what nation we are from, we are first Christ’s.
2. The closeness of our relationship to Christ should be like the clothes on our backs. Keller says, “Your clothes are kept closer to you than any other possession. You rely on them for shelter every moment. They go everywhere with you. So to say Christ is our clothing is to call us to moment-by-moment dependence and existential awareness of Christ. We get to spiritually “practice His presence”.”
3. We are imitators of Christ. Keller writes, “To practice the presence of Christ entails that we continually think and act as if we were directly before His face…It means to take Jesus into every area of our life and change it in accordance with His will and Spirit. We are to put on His virtues and actions. We are to “dress up like Jesus”.”
We talk about it in our home as being a “put on”! :) When we put on Christ, we put on His mind, His actions and imitate what He would want us to do. And through that, our own hearts and minds change to become more like His and we see the blessing that comes from living that way.
4. We are accepted to God. Keller says, “Finally, clothing is worn as adornment. It covers our nakedness; and God has been providing clothes which cover our shame since the fall (Genesis 3:7, 21). To say that Christ is our clothing is to say that in God’s sight, we are loved because of Jesus’ work and salvation. When God looks at us, He sees us as His sons because He sees His Son. The Lord Jesus has given us His righteousness, His perfection to wear.”
So, how does this apply to our lives…daily!?!
Over breakfast that morning, I was talking to my kids about these points because I want them to get it! To get that when they are at home or at school, they are clothed with Christ. He is as close to them as the clothes on their backs. He is always with them. Just like a policeman is recognized by his uniform, so we are recognized by how we “dress” and act throughout the day. We talked about what it means to imitate someone and how they get to imitate Jesus and shine His love into those they meet because He gives them the power to dress up like Jesus. It’s not of our own power or flesh.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, “put on” a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:12-13).
When we remember He forgave us first, that He’s right there with us, and knows how hard life can be, we can have power in Christ to love, be gracious and kind because we experience HIS graciousness and kindness daily as we walk with Him.
And, finally, I wanted my kids to remember that they are accepted, covered, beautiful and holy to God. We need to remember that we WILL mess up and fall short all day long but the most important thing we can do is just confess it and keep turning back to Christ. We can’t “DO” anything to be righteous…God has done the work and covers their sin and shame with His robes of righteousness. So, I told my son to take his shirt off and I took a pen and on his chest wrote “sin”. Then had him put his shirt back on. The kids were laughing because mom wrote on his chest, but it was a fun and memorable activity because it showed such a huge point. We are full of sin. My heart, his heart, all of our hearts are full of sin…pride, selfishness, lust, jealousy, etc. Our hearts get contaminated with it. But, does God see that when He looks at us? No. He clothes us with Christ. He covers our sin and shame. He covers our past mistakes and failures. He sees His beloved Son and His nail scared hands. We don’t have to walk around in condemnation, sadness or in guilt anymore.
“If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Praise the Lord! We can be free. We can be new.
So my daughter asked if I’d write on her chest too, then so did my four year old!! It was great for them to recognize yes, they have sin in their hearts because we were born into this world and we make a mess of it sometimes. But when we ask for forgiveness, Christ washes us and covers that sin because He loves us!! Therefore they can walk in power, in victory, in love and in grace because they are clothed with Christ!!
Today, may you meditate on what that means for you. Christ is right here with you…closer than the clothes on your back. His love covers you and in Christ you are a new creation. No longer do we have to live in guilt and shame. We get to live out His love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace to all we meet because we feel it all around us as we are covered in His love.
So, go get dressed up…you are His beloved!!