Thursday, October 31, 2013

More than a costume

Like most kids, I loved Halloween when I was younger. There was the candy, obviously, but also the costumes. Surprisingly, I can only remember two of the costumes I wore as a child. 

The first I remember because it was the go to costume in our house on many occasions – the hobo. The reason was simple enough. Dressing up as a hobo required little to no preparation. Put on some of dad’s old clothes. Smudge some of mom’s mascara on your face to look like you just spent a rough night out by the tracks. VoilĂ ! You’re a hobo. 

The only other costume I remember wearing was a Luke Skywalker costume. This wasn’t any Luke Skywalker, this was Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter Costume. You know, the orange jumpsuit costume. I remember this costume for one reason and one reason only – it was awesome! It allowed me to pretend I was something far more than a six year old boy – I was a rebel fighter pilot zooming through space to help defeat the evil empire!

It’s amazing how our clothes can change the way we perceive ourselves. We know that to a degree, we are the same person beneath our garments. But what we wear can cause us to lean into a certain way of being. Dress like a hobo and you just might find yourself acting like a hobo. Dress like a hero, well, you just might find yourself filling the part. There’s a reason we get dressed up for work or for competition or for an important event like a wedding or a funeral. Our clothing often helps us live appropriately in the moment in which we find ourselves.

It’s no wonder that the Bible often uses clothing as a metaphor for the Christian life. The apostle Paul was especially fond of this image. He challenged the Romans to “put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). He encouraged the Colossians to “clothe [themselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience . . . and over all these virtues put on love which binds them together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12, 14). To the Ephesians, he returns to the image of armor, inviting them to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13).

At first glance, images like the armor of light or clothes made out of things like compassion and kindness, might feel like nothing more than a costume. When we attempt to put them on in place of our normal clothes of selfishness and sin, we might feel like we are just pretending to be something we are not. Remarkably, Paul claims these things are no costume. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has purchased these new clothes as our regular wear. If we’ll consciously put them on each morning, we’ll find ourselves leaning into the very life for which we were redeemed.
So go ahead and get dressed up both today and every day.

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