Summary: Unable to dress up our lives with a "righteousness" of our own, Jesus dresses us in "His" righteousness.
Christmas 2 B
All Dressed Up
Yes, they’re still here – the manger, the advent candles, the decorations and the trees. Signs of Christmas, so hastily put up, in many cases so slow to be put away. For a couple of months now our homes, our businesses, our churches; yes, even our very bodies have been decked out in Christmas apparel. In some cases, knowing that it will be a long time before we see another, that dress up continues even today (flash those Christmas Day socks and tie).
Dressing up for Christmas, or any other occasion for that matter, kind takes where we want to be. It transports us back to where we wish we were again. Which makes it all the more important that we do it right. Or at least it becomes important for us.
I think that’s where phrases like “I haven’t a thing to wear” come from. It’s not that we’ve any real lack of clothing, even good clothing. A quick survey of most of our closets would reveal a vast assortment of garments that could cloth a dozen people or more in most places throughout the world. No, it isn’t that we haven’t a thing to wear, really. The trouble is we feel as if what we do have is somehow sub par, unfit or inadequate for the occasion.
That may or may not be true of you in a fashion sense. I’ve seen some fine looking outfits today. It’s clear that you or your parents or somebody put a lot of thought into what you’re wear to God’s house today and that’s great. But in another sense we’d all have reason to wonder about what we’ve worn to church today. And I’m not talking about our clothes. I’m talking about our spiritual condition before God. And from God’s Word we hear that it would be very accurate for us to say that before Him, we haven’t a thing to wear.
In fact, that’s exactly what Adam whispered to Eve when he heard the sound of God walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. He was feeling rather naked in the sight of God, a feeling that still comes over us when God’s word comes like a doubled edged sword to divide both bone and marrow; that is when the Word cuts deep behind all of our excuses and justifications and shows us for what we really are. We’re exposed before the eyes of God and what he sees isn’t pretty.
It’s pictured in the prophetic account of Zechariah 3. There the high priest, Joshua, is envisioned dressed in filthy rags. It’s meant as a picture, not just of his sins before God, but of the sins of all God’s people that he represents. It’s a picture of all humanity as we stand before the Almighty. It’s an image that reminds us all that when it comes to our God we really haven’t a thing to wear. No, as Isaiah reminds us just a few chapters later, “even our righteous deeds, the best of our works, the most prestigious accomplishments we’ve attained in our Christian walk; are like filthy rags before God.” The best of our deeds, the greatest that this world and our lives have to offer is still unable to adequately dress us up and make us presentable before God.
Which ought to make it clear. Not just anything will do. Not just any place will have what you need.
In America today that’s just what we’re used to doing. A week ago, shops were full of people not entirely satisfied with what they received. The style didn’t suit them. The quality didn’t measure up. The size wasn’t quite right. Some items were merely exchanged for a size a bit smaller or tad bit bigger. For some the entire purchase was scrapped. Money was refunded and used for something else. Outfits were matched and re-matched till the look was right for them, till they felt comfortable with what they had.
It’s a good shopping strategy, I suppose, when it comes to clothes. “Just run to the mall and get what you want, what you think you need, what you feel you can’t live without.” But how does that strategy work when it comes to our standing before God.
If a person understand that God is whoever or whatever a person makes him out to be, then this strategy will sound just fine. They’ll look around for whatever suits them or feels good for the moment. And many do. They shop for gods like they were on a shopping trip to a mall of spirituality where every option is suitable for someone. They only job is to find the one that is suitable for them. Or if they’re really diligent they might just make up something of their own. That which is appropriate, that which is suitable, is a matter of personal taste rather than some absolute standard.