Clothe Yourselves

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
-Galatians 3:26-27


I have repeatedly been impressed by the idea of being clothed in Christ. Most recently I was watching an episode of “White Collar,” a new show on the USA network, in which a very intelligent and good-looking criminal mastermind, who is on probation, acts as a consultant for the FBI to help solve high-end crimes. In a scene from this episode, the consultant, Neal Cafferty, is at a party deftly mingling with models, New York fashionistas and socialites, and everyone is rich, beautiful, powerful, or all three. Of course, this show is fiction, but I think it accurately reflects a part of our society that is presented as a standard for the good life. But, even if you don’t buy into this picture, the world offers a variety of options to clothe ourselves.

Whether it be money, intelligence, beauty, talent, or a variety power, these things are used to cover what I’ll refer to as primal poverty, the poverty we are born into as fallen creatures in a fallen world. Essentially, primal poverty is the fact that we are born empty of God’s Spirit, the Spirit whose presence was to be an intimate and integral part of being human. It is this poverty that explains the blight of the human condition.

Being creatures made in God’s image, this poverty should function like a “splinter in our mind” telling us all is not well with ourselves and the world, and yet the world is structured to keep us from acknowledging it. Instead, the world offers the ways mentioned above as a means to mask our nakedness and medicate our existential dis-ease. The world offers a kind of clothing, but one that can never get at the core problem.

The tragedy of all this is that God desires to freely clothe all of us with the only covering that gets at the tap root of our existence. I have not done any biblical exegesis on Paul’s concept of clothing, but my guess is that when he talks about clothing ourselves in Christ, he is not talking about putting on something that is external and merely covers what is unsightly. Rather clothing has to do with a deep relationship, where the one who is clothed is given every means and resource to develop and flourish. To be clothed in Christ is to be covered and deeply permeated with his Spirit soaked life, a life that brings genuine beauty, true riches, and eternal power.

The hard thing about being clothed in Christ, however, is that through the world’s eyes it will look like the emperor’s new clothes, because it requires us to strip ourselves of worldly coverings in order to wear it.

9 Responses to “Clothe Yourselves”

  1. Simon  

    So here’s a comment that isn’t so much about the blog but more about the way I consume this blog.

    I’m rather busy at the moment which is why I haven’t commented much or responded to that email you send me last week (or was it the week before?). However, I’m still interested in hearing what you have to say and I try, where possible to read everything you write in a timely manner so that I can digest it and maybe comment. However, in these last hectic few weeks I confess I have fallen behind. so much so that today i decided to have you blog converted to a rather strange sounding digital podcast that I could subscribe to in iTunes and listen to in the car.

    So, all this to tell you that The Dark Glass is now available as a podcast narrated by a rather digital sounding fellow. Anyone can subscribe to the dark glass via iTunes by using the link ‘Listen to this blog‘ on the right under the ‘Pages’ menu.

    I hope you don’t mind me taking this liberty as an admin Anthony. But I enjoy your stuff and I’ve been in the car so much of late that I haven’t been able to keep up. Now I can tune in from wherever I am just as long as I have either my laptop for the web, or my iPod for the podcast!

  2. Anthony Velez  

    So Simon, do I sound like Stephen Hawking? I have no problem with you taking the liberty to convert my posts into a podcast, but something about this makes me laugh, and I am not sure why.

  3. Simon  

    Well Professor Hawking’s voice sounds very out of date these days, but it is apparently uniquely his so he has stuck with it despite technological progress in voice technology. So no, you don’t sound like him, but the voice isn’t yet as natural as your soothing tones 😉

  4. K.L.B.  

    Well… shiver me timbers!

    Here, Simon has voluntarily provided a crappy electro-pseudo voice for this fine socio-religious commentarian’s popular tome and I happen to have a wonderful, God-given speaking voice!

    Could you please pass the Grey Poupon or the jelly (Polaner All Fruit) ? (Depending, of course, upon your preferences.)

    Gotta’ do somethin’ about that, you know!

    *(I’ll comment on the entry later.)*

  5. Simon  

    Well if you want to read these posts then I’ll happily set up the podcast feed for you KLB 🙂

  6. Simon  

    I also added the new format options here so you nice people can make things bold italicdeleted‘ or linked. 🙂

  7. K.L.B.  

    You watch that crappy show? Me too! *LOL* Ain’t it great? You have noticed its premise is based upon the motion picture “Catch Me If You Can,” haven’t you?

    Interesting you wrote about power. I was thinking about this just the other day – as a matter of fact, it was the day you wrote this entry, and before you’d written it. Now is the first time I’ve read it.

    The thing I’d thought about was this: If power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, I need some Viagra® (sildenafil).

    But then, Viagra® (sildenafil) is NOT an aphrodisiac. It doesn’t affect desire. It is an antihypertensive.

    Let me ask you a question: When you are clothed, are you naked?

    The obvious answer is “no.”

    When the Apostle writes, “You… have clothed yourselves with Christ,” he is not supposing something that will happen in the future, he is expressing something that has ALREADY happened!

    When you write “… God desires to freely clothe all of us…,” it is as if God has NOT already done everything He’s going to do.

    It’s like this: God IS the Father of ALL humankind, whether they acknowledge it or not.

    Analogously, growing up, were any of your children to deny the fact of your biological father’s parentage of them, it would NOT have changed the fact of the matter – which is, that you are their father.

    At the point in time which they would acknowledge the truth of your fatherhood of them, the only thing that would change is the nature and character of the RELATIONSHIP they have with you. Recall the adoption passages in the NT.

    Those gifts are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

    And besides… trees have only ONE tap root – not numerous ones which you assert by writing the “…tap roots of our existence.”

    In some way, I think perhaps we (you and I) are like the blind men describing an elephant. For we have described the same thing. Only our perspectives are slightly skewed.

  8. K.L.B.  

    Simon, I’m down with it… if it’s okay with Tony!

    Oh, and I noticed the changes. They’re truly an improvement!

  9. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – Yes, God is the father of all insofar as he is the creator, we are made in his image, and he assumes responsibility for all of us, but there is a unique relationship that those who have trusted Christ have with God; it is a relationship wherein they freely participate in the sonship of Jesus. And so, continuing in the analogy of the post, when people rely upon their own resources, upon their own means of establishing dignity and worth through all the means mentioned in this post, then they are not allowing themselves to be clothed in Christ. Also, Christians, being a people in process, continue to wrestle with sin and temptation, and so it is possible that some or many, in various degrees, will capitulate to the pressures of this world and seek to clothe themselves through worldly means.

    In the Scripture that I quoted at the beginning of this post, Paul is speaking indicatively, which is to say that he is telling us how it is: those who have been baptized have been clothed in Christ. Elsewhere, in Romans 13:13-14, however, when Paul refers to being clothed in Christ he issues an imperative. This is what he says, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” This is often how Paul works, he speaks indicatively of what God has freely done, which provides a foundation and context for ethical commands. And so, the paradoxical tension is that though God has freely clothed us in Christ, we also have to choose to be clothed in Christ.

    Oh, and I will correct my error and change “tap roots” to “tap root,” which is actually a more potent idea.