I like clothing. I don’t shop or buy that much of it, but if I didn’t have superior and more satisfactory desires, I’m confident I would. Although, I do love Christ more than clothing, I do have a few pairs of shoes. Sometimes I buy clothing to fit in. I bought two suits when I became an interim pastor. The rest of the leadership wears suits on Sunday, so I conformed. I recently returned from England where shoes are a personal statement. I shopped for shoes but didnt find any. I wnated them to set me apart in America, but in reality I was seeking conforming to England. I got some pretty cool Sketchers that actually come with European sizes. Does that count? The point is that we clothe ourselves to fit in to some community, vocational or social. Clothing is also theological. Paul tells the Colossians to put on the clothing of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. This clothing is very important. Without it we will not live with the community of faith and the triune God in the new creation.
All too often, we arenít aware of or convicted by the fact that we have ill-fitting clothing. This is why women go shopping by twos. We need someone to point out whether or not our jeans really fit around the waist. Thatís where the community of faith comes in. We need others to point out our high-water jeans and our oversize shirts. The problem is that too many of us donít believe that we need others. We are so used to doing Christianity on our own that we actually think itís an individual project. Itís not; itís a community project. One of the greatest lies we have ever believed is that the Christian life can be lived on our own. Paul combats this individualistic notion with his one another commands: love one another, teach one another, and admonish one another.
A great place for this to happen is in the church, in small groups and in accountability groups. The problem with these groups, however, is that too often they run on individual, not communal gas. We expect everyone to do their homework, confession and repentance alone. But Paul tells us that we need to instruct, admonish and love one another by asking the hard and penetrating questions. By pointing out when the clothing doesnít fit.
But how can we do this Christianly, redemptively? How is your clothing?