During the senior and junior high Bible study last night, someone mentioned that we need to be clothed with Christ. Looking to wake people up, I asked the question, “What does that look like? How do you clothe yourself with Christ?” I was surprises by some of the responses. One girl quickly grasped that this is a metaphor, but couldn’t seem to articulate exactly what it is representing. Her thought that clothing yourself with Christ meant following a list of do’s and don’ts (don’t drink, don’t have sex before marriage, pray every day, go to church) only met with my irritation. Digging deeper I discovered that most of us despise the idea that there are lists of Christian do’s and don’ts. But we all, students and teachers alike, had a tough time defining what it means to clothe oneself with Christ.
It was interesting that one girl did not like the idea of the do’s and don’ts list, but at the same time really appreciated the fact they do exist. In fact, she left me with the impression that maybe she would like a few more lists. “It really makes it easier for me to act like a Christian. I know right away what is and what isn’t acceptable.” Problem is, as this same girl pointed out, so many things on the list aren’t really relevant to being a Christian. Who has the right to decide what is and what isn’t acceptable? As one girl said, “not drinking, not smoking, or being abstinent have nothing to do with being Christian. That’s just plain common sense!” But what about other things? We all had a good laugh when someone mentioned the elder who judges people by the clothes they wear to church. We all agreed that wearing an Eagles jersey to Sunday worship does not make one a spiritually poor Christian. So who sets the rules and who decides whether or not they are Scriptural? More relevantly, who decides when the rules are wrong and need to be changed? Certainly the emerging church is redefining the rules (or breaking them, depending on one’s perspective), but is that their right? Do the rules even need changing?
As for the original question, “What does it mean to be clothed with Christ?”, we never really did define what the metaphor means. We did dig out the idea that is has something to do with influence. One of the leaders suggested the metaphor that each of us is clothed with our parents whether we realize it or not. That is, there is a profound psychological, physical, and spiritual affect on us from having been exposed to our parents. They influence how we act, think, and even look. They do so because they are our parents and that is part of their job description, but it’s also primarily because we spend so much time with them. Even the child who only sees dad or mom every other weekend is still influenced by them. There is something about the parent/child relationship that breeds influence, good and bad, on the child.
Could clothing ourselves with Christ be that simple? Could it simply mean that we spend so much time with Jesus that He has total influence over every thing we do, think, say, and are?
I’ll be interested hearing your thoughts.