The last few days have been cold and wintery here in Dallas. Well, cold according to Texans (usually meaning anything in the 50’s or below). The last two days haven't made it above freezing and ice on the roads meant schools were closed. Everyone prepared for this "winter event" by buying firewood, pulling out gloves and scarves, cooking cornbread and chili, and getting out space heaters (this is winter, right?). A few days from now it will be back in the 60’s, but it doesn’t matter to us. Winter is an event. One must be prepared for it.
This morning (while bundled up in all my North Face gear) I enjoyed a warm cup of coffee while I meditated on this passage in my daily prayer book…
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14 NRSV)
I found myself constantly drawn to these words–clothe yourselves. As I reflected on these words, I thought about the way in which most people will be preparing for the day. As silly Texans, who think winter is an event and not a season, we will give a lot of thought to the clothes we put on today. We must make sure that we are wearing clothes that are suited for the event.
But what about life?
Life is THE event. One must be prepared for it.
Earlier on in Colossians 3, we read,
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4 NRSV)
These are strong, very strong, words, “Christ who IS your life…”
As Christians, Christ is not part of our lives; Christ IS our life, and as such we must be prepared–properly clothed.
What clothes are we supposed to be wearing? Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Meekness. Patience. And, above all, Love.
I wonder, how many of us spent more time staring in the closet this morning than we did staring in the Gospels? Did we give more thought to our shirts or to compassion? Our pants or kindness? Our socks or humility? Our shoes or meekness? Our coats or patience? Our belts or love?
We prepare for everything in our lives with an understanding that if we don’t properly prepare ourselves we will be unable to withstand the moment. If we don’t put consideration into what we will wear, so that we are properly clothed for winter, we have no right to stand in the cold and complain that we are freezing.
Most of us live, though, as if living like Jesus takes no preparation. We assume that we must give no consideration into putting on compassion or kindness or humility or meekness or patience or love. The result is that we are not properly clothed and yet we stand in the grip of bitterness and complain that we don’t know why we are unforgiving.
Are you spending more time preparing for winter or for life? Do you give more thought to your physical clothes or to your spiritual clothes?
Just about every person I know has at some time or another had a dream in which they showed up at school or work without any clothes. The embarrassment of being naked was real and vivid, even in their deep sleep. It would be unthinkable to be naked and head out the door.
What if we as Christians began having “naked dreams” in which we saw ourselves at school or at work and we weren’t being loving, or kind, or patient? What if being unloving caused us as much embarrassment as being naked in public? Shouldn’t it be unthinkable to head out the door naked–not clothed in love?
Did you get dressed this morning?