“We Have … Christ-Centered Clothes”

Colossian 3:12-17


            So I’d like to conduct an informal survey. What is the most shocking piece of clothing in your closet?

1) An old college sweatshirt. 2) A purple and pink bathrobe. 3) A St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat. 4) A Hawaiian shirt that your wife can’t stand. 5) A T-shirt that even Goodwill won’t take.

            It’s true, some clothing is just downright shocking. Biblically even. Take for instance Joseph’s “coat of many colors.” Or what about Jeremiah’s dirty underwear in Jeremiah 13. You just need to go look that one up. Daniel’s Ancient of Days has clothing as white as snow. Then there is John the Baptist outfit made out of camel’s hair and a leather belt.

            Add to this list what Greg Sotzing, a professor at the University of Connecticut, has invented and calls “emotional clothing.” Sotzing’s clothes can read your emotions and display them through electro-chromic threads that change color in response to how you feel. Now that’s shocking!

            Shocking body wear though is nothing new. Paul tells us today about our Christian clothing. As we look at this clothing, get prepared to be shocked, a time or two!
            Paul says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves” (Col. 3:12a). Martin Luther, in his Large Catechism, explains this verse this way: “Therefore, let all Christians regard their baptism as the daily garment that they wear all the time. Every day they should be found in faith and with its fruits, suppressing the old creature and growing up in the new.” Take off the vices and put on the virtues.

            Put on one piece at a time. “… compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).

            CompassionSplankna in the Greek. This is the word which we get “spleen” from. Love others from the spleen, the gut, the heart.

            Kindness – While at Seminary, I had to learn how to read Greek and Hebrew, which I’m not too good at anymore. While at Seminary, I also got married and I had to learn another language. It’s called “Interpreting Your Spouse’s Signs, 101”. Wise is the man who learns the nonverbal language of his wife. Wise is the man who notes the nod and discerns the gestures. It’s not just what is said, but how it is said. For example, the other day, Jessica said, “Oh, the Dr. Pepper box is empty.” It’s not just what is said but how it is said. Her statement, it was code for “If you love me, you’ll buy me some Dr. Peppper.”It’s not just how it is said, but when it is said. It’s not just when, but where. Good husbanding is good decoding. You’ve got to read the signs.

            Take this fictional story, or least fictional to me story. In this story, we’re just going to say that I’m the husband, but really I’m not this guy.

            A husband and wife are getting ready to go on their first vacation. My wife gave me a verbal sign, “We need to pack the car.” A few minutes later, she issued a second sign. This one was a nonverbal sign. She began taking suitcases outside. Much to my credit, I put the two signs together and got to work. Never one to take on the simple jobs, I passed on packing and loading and decided to organize the maps. This is where you can see this is not me because we don’t use paper maps anymore. Now we use Google.

            For the next half hour, my wife didn’t say a word to me. I assumed she was praying, thanking God for such a wonderful husband. My first clue that something was wrong was her final pronouncement that night. “I’m going to bed now. You can sleep on the couch.” Needless to say, I had missed the sign to load the suitcases. That’s not wearing kindness.

            Humility – There is a Peanut comic strip where Snoopy is playing tennis. In the first frame, he’s shown with a brand new racket. However, things don’t go well. Snoopy gets mad and he throws his racket, kicks it, and stomps on it. Then, in great anguish, he smashes it over the tennis net pole. In the final frame of the cartoon, he addresses this letter. “Gentlemen, under separate cover I’m returning a defective tennis racket.” Or, as someone else once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose that counts; it’s where you place the blame.” This is not humility. Humility dares you to utter three of the toughest words in the English language … “I was wrong.”

            Gentleness – This doesn’t mean weakness, but rather, it means, “strength under control.” “Gentleness” is a strong man setting down a heavy weight so gently on a fragile surface that nothing is damaged.

PatienceMacrothumia in the Greek. It literally means, “slow to heat up.” Want to know how to tell if someone is patient? See how they react in a slow elevator. There are button-pushers…. There are bouncers. … There are those who will take the stairs. … There are those who hastily pull out their phone and start scrolling. … And there are those who take a deep breath and … wait. Which one are you?

            We put on one piece at a time and we wash them. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

            I’ve used this illustration before, but it’s worth repeating.

            A Lutheran pastor carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years ago. He had repented, he had confessed it and been told that his sin is forgiven, but yet, he still had no sense of God’s forgiveness. There was a woman in his church who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Jesus, and he with her. The pastor … he was a bit skeptical. So he decided to test her.

            He said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your pastor committed while he was in college.” The woman agreed. A few days go by and the pastor asked the woman, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes he did,” she replied. “And did he tell you what sin I committed in college?” “Yes He did.” “And what did He say?” “He said, I don’t remember.”

            How has the Lord forgiven you? … Mostly? 80%? 90%? How has the Lord forgiven you? … Completely. Totally. He says, “I don’t remember!” The all-knowing One doesn’t remember. That’s shocking body wear! We are called to forgive and forget whatever grievance we may have against one another. But why should we?

            Why should we? … Because it’s what Jesus didn’t wear one Friday that is the ultimate shock of the ages. Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus, had him beaten just inches short of death, and then marched Him through town out to Golgotha. There on top of that mountain, Jesus was stripped, shoved to the ground and nailed to the cross. There on that cross He didn’t wear a cloak or robe. There was no wrapping and nothing covered his beaten body. All his clothes had been gambled away. Jesus hung there absolutely … naked. He suffered all of that disgrace … for you. For your forgiveness.

            So why hold people hostage?  Why demand a ransom, a payback for the ways they’ve hurt us? Wanting them suffer, just a little bit longer. Paul says, “Forgive … forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

            “And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:14). Put on love. Agape in the Greek. Agape means – I accept you as you; I believe you are valuable; I care when you hurt; I want what is best for you; I forgive all offenses. Agape love is not a feeling, it’s a selfless, sacrificial promise. This is why Paul commands believers to put on love. Put on love like a belt that holds all things together. This love is a decision of the will to cherish the other person, even in the face of what is unlovable. Without the belt of agape love holding it all together … we lose it all.

            In the midst of our world today … that is some shocking clothing to be wearing. Instead of anger, revenge, pride, harshness, and being demanding … live out love, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (Col. 3:12-14).

            Put these items on, one piece at a time. Wash them in the forgiving blood of Jesus. Wear your belt of love and then delight in your new wardrobe. When people see you clothed in this wardrobe, living your life to bring glory and honor to God and not yourself, they’re going to ask you, “Where did you get those clothes?” Your answer is one word … Jesus. Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.


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