Romans 13:14 tells us to “clothe ourselves with Christ”. Some translations read “Put on Christ”. When we consider wardrobe malfunctions we may think of various pictures we’ve seen of celebrities getting out of cars or even Janet Jackson’s famous “slip” that leave certain body parts exposed. But wardrobe malfunctions also occur when clothing is worn in ways the designer had not intended. When we consider this in light of the passage in Romans, many of us are guilty of similar malfunctions when it comes to putting on Christ.
I did a sermon on this a few years back and I used a sport coat to illustrate the various ways some of us choose to wear Christ. In one example I put the coat on inside out. This would be representative of those who want to wear Christ in such a way that it’s not visible to others. Perhaps they are embarrassed to be labeled Christian or are afraid they would be ostracized by their social and professional groups if Christ showed. Or maybe they are the ones who feel faith should be personal and no one’s business. So they wear the coat inside out so no one can see that they are wearing Christ.
Then I put the coat just half way on with one arm hanging out. This would be for those who are indecisive or uncommitted to wearing Christ. They want to have Him handy in case of emergencies so they could quickly put the other arm in the jacket and complete the wardrobe but they don’t feel the need to wear Him all the time. Or maybe they are still trying to figure out how to wear Him. They are new to the faith, or they have been in situations and trials that have left them with more questions than answers and they leave one arm out in rebellion or protest, remaining completely noncommittal.
Then the coat was put on all the way but buttoned wrong with the collar up and one sleeve rolled up. This would represent those who are so eager to put on Christ that they wear Him in haste and with piety. I liken these to the Church police, the legalists, or the eager but still learning new believers who grab the coat and dash out with it everyday without first checking the mirror to see how others will be seeing you. I argue with people like this on a daily basis. They are quick to throw a scriptural stone at anything that looks or smells ungodly, they carry the largest Bibles and condemn anything that seems out of line with their finite definition of all things holy. Their intentions are good and their heart may even be in the right place but they haven’t been properly discipled to effectiveness and accuracy concerning the Word and the faith.
And then these was my favorite. I just casually threw the coat over my shoulder like a model in Esquire magazine. This is the person who has no real faith in Christ at all and no desire to be counted among genuine believers. This person just wears Christ like a fashion statement, completely off the shoulders and carried around for show but not a part of the wardrobe ensemble. This describes a lot of people. It might be the gang banger who gets a crucifix tattoo or the business professional who places the Christian Fish image on his business card in order to increase sales with the Christian community. This would be the award winning artist who has a questionable lifestyle but thanks God for his or her award. It would most certainly cover recording artists who put our a song that eludes to deity among other cuts that glorify darkness. This person treats Christ like a fad or a trend and carries Him because it’s the in thing to do but has no regard whatsoever with the words, the teaching of the life that Christ calls us all to live. Just bling, no more.
And then there is the one who puts on the coat, straightens the lapel, pulls the sleeves down so they are both even, makes sure the buttons are lined properly and that the coat is free from lent or debris, and checks himself in the mirror before venturing out. He wants to know what he looks like and how others are going to see him before he leaves his place. This is the one who properly “Puts on Christ”. They know that if worn correctly He will be seen and they are concerned with how he will be viewed, so they do all they can to wear Him properly. If the wind blows, they hold the coat snug and together. If something is spilled on it, they are quick to blot away the spill and clean the soiled area. If the coat is snagged they quickly and cleanly make repairs. This person is not afraid of wearing Christ everyday-they are more afraid of keeping the Christ they put on from becoming a major wardrobe malfunction that leaves them embarrassed or exposed to others. They don’t wear the coat with anything that would clash with it or anything that would take away from it’s intended design. They wear it so much that if they show up some place without it others notice immediately that it’s missing and they ask them about it. It becomes a part of who they are, their known identity. The one who wears the coat this way enjoys the warmth and the comfort of the proper attire and they would never consider any other outer wear than their Christ coat.
Let’s be real-many of us are not fashionistas. Even among us “mature in the faith” there are days when we haphazardly throw on Christ as we leave our homes. We don’t pray or study, we don’t “check” ourselves in the mirror. We get our coats dirty and are not quick in getting them cleaned. we are of the human nature and wearing Christ accurately 24/7 is a high calling that few can boast with any real success. The beauty is that God provide through Christ an all day dry cleaning service, an all day alteration for rips or snags and a world of mirrors so we always have an idea what our sphere of friends see when they look at us. When the winds howl and the rains come and soak us, we can still be wearing Christ at the end of the day and feel warm in his comfort and the knowledge that we have worn Him effectively another day.
How do you put on Christ? Inside out so no one sees? Half on half off in indecisiveness? In haste and judgement? Over the shoulder simply for fashion but not protection? Or the way intended, fully clothed, neat and cleaned? Let us strive to be the latter so the world will be able to easily recognize Him when they see us walking in Him. Blessing and peace.