Friday, March 27, 2009

You Wear Christ Well

I believe that God has truly delivered me, and that I have been walking out freedom in so many ways. Throughout the past couple months, however, I have become aware of bondage to the number on the tag of my clothing. Why does this number have such a hold on me, when it is so changeable? The actual size and fit of pants varies with the store, cut, color, and even just individual pairs of pants. Today’s society has taught young girls and women to attach value to ourselves based on the tag attached to the inside of our clothing. No one will see these tags, and they are in reality arbitrary. There is no consistency. For men, clothing is sized my actual measurements. For women, however, clothing is sized by whim of the designer. It is tragic, because our emotional state can often depend on the number in our clothing. How sad!
I was challenged this week to study what God’s word says about clothing and what being clothed really means. Wow. I am so in awe of the relevance of the word of God to today’s problems. It speaks to every issue that we may face in our daily life. There are days where I dread getting up in the morning just because I am afraid of how my clothing will fit me that day. While my clothing most of the time fits the same, I should never base my emotional well being on the raiment which I choose to decorate my external body. I am so much more than my body, and my worth is of far more value than rubies or diamonds.
In my study of the word “clothe” in God’s word, I find it connected with pride or humility. As C. S. Lewis asserts, most of our issues in human morality are based in the root sin of pride, so this fact does not surprise me. In the Old Testament, I learned that to clothe means to wrap, put on, or arm. As we know, Adam and Eve were initially naked. While I am by no means advocating nudity (I like to stay out of jail), I am intrigued by the clothing situation in Eden. When they recognized their nakedness, they clothed themselves with leaves. God, however, who offered greater gifts than the two fruit -munchers could provide for themselves, gave them clothing made of animal skins. We have our ideas of luxury, but God’s definition is so much greater. The second parallel that I see in the Old Testament which also carries over into the New Testament is clothing in the context of arming one’s self. We are commanded to put on the armor of God. In the Old Testament, putting on armor was vital for survival in battle. This was a functional act, not so much an act of adornment or vanity. Finally, “to clothe” also holds a more figurative significance, where the garment has more abstract quality. This abstract quality can be positive (honor, dignity, humility, compassion), or it can be negative (disgrace, shame, desolation). In the case of Gideon, the Holy Spirit clothed Himself in Gideon’s body. It is amazing to think that our bodies can be the clothing for the Holy Spirit.
Another use of “clothe” is more functional. The purpose of this “girding’ is for labor, not decoration. It can also be seen as a badge of servitude. Here, we see humility as the key to this action. Instead of a size tag as a badge for identity, the simple apron is sufficient to show the nature of a servant. It is a token of deference, or respect and honor, for an Individual higher than one’s self.
In understanding Luke’s reference to the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen (like our desire to wear the best quality, most fashionable, smallest clothes possible), it is important to understand the definition of “clothe” which Luke uses. This form of “clothe” offers an implication of “sinking into” clothing. This sounds to me much more carnal and fleshly. Who wants to sink into their clothing? Do I want the Holy Spirit to robe Himself in my body, or do I want to sink into my own vanity’s perception of beauty and “acceptable sizes”?
Isaiah 52 says, “Awake, awake, put on your strength Oh Zion! Put on your beautiful garments.” I have a feeling that the garments referred to here transcend earthly robes. These are the garments of celebration, honor, and joy. Isaiah 61 says that God has clothed me with garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. This description does not sound like it is attached to a specific size. Galatians 3 says to clothe ourselves with Christ. Colossians 3 tells us to clothe ourselves with a new spiritual self, which is in the process of being renewed and remolded into a more full and perfect knowledge after the image of Christ.
In further reading of Colossians 3, I am astounded that how we clothe ourselves is rooted in the identity that we have established. My identity for so long was so unstable, and it was rooted in whatever society and the enemy called acceptable and perfect. Now, my identity is found in Christ and what He calls me. This passage says that I am God’s chosen one, His own PICKED representative, purified, holy, and well-loved. How will I get out of bed in the morning with this knowledge? In understanding this, I cannot let the enemy deceive me anymore about where my true identity lies. My identity is in Christ. A recent sermon shed light on this subject when the speaker said that she wants to “wear Christ well.” I don’t want to wear a size zero well. I want to wear Christ well. Is my striving to fit into a certain size preventing me from being able to wear Christ as well as He has called me? Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to clothe me the way that Gideon allowed the Spirit to clothe him as he marched into battle, armed with power from on high?
Every day, I don’t want to step out of bed without putting on the armor of God: The helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, the belt of truth, the feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, binding them together with prayer. Without these, I am a walking target for the enemy. Carrying these, I can fight the lies about my size and my identity. I will wear clothing that fits my body, and I will wear Christ well. Whatever Christ calls me, I am. I am not defined by the tag on this inside of my pants. I am defined by the badge that God gives me, which says, “chosen, purified, well-loved.” Then, whatever size I may find myself, I know who I am and WHOSE I am. There is no more fear, only confidence clothed with humility. I don’t care so much about wearing my jeans well. I want to wear my Jesus well.

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