February 22, 2010

What Not to Wear: Conforming to the Image of God

You aren't suppose to wear horizontal stripes or high-waisted pants with certain body shapes. And you definitely need to get rid of those 1980's shoulder pads. Agree or not, this is some of the wisdom imparted by cable-tv fashionistas Clinton and Stacy whose aim is to help everyday women look their best according to their own body type and life context. In order to be on the show, one has to be willing to let Clinton and Stacy go through their closet, allowing them to critically assess and even dispose of those items that do anything other than truly flatter the person. The bottom line is that there just some things one ought not to wear. How true this is for our lives as followers of Jesus. Some traits we possess or actions we pursue simply do not correspond to a Christian wardrobe.

Colossians 3 (ESV) states:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is yourlife appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

We are called, as God's chosen ones, to not only avoid the ways of our former life, but to be deliberate about putting on those truths that conform to what it means to be Christlike. The example in Jesus shows us compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience in its ultimate form, all grounded in His perfect love. As we seek to understand the purity of those characteristics as practiced by Christ, we know that our spiritual wardrobe is growing more beautiful - as we grow closer to Christ and become more conformed to his image.

To take this illustration a step further, do you find yourself in an accountability relationship such that you are willing to let someone enter your spiritual closet and tell you what not to wear? Though redeemed, we still struggle with the old nature that prevents us from always being honest with ourselves. We are so willing to be self-deceived. This is my challenge to you today - as  you are committed to growing in your relationship with God, grow in your relationship with another woman of faith and be for each what we generally prefer not to be for ourselves. But above all, put on love.