Summary: We sense that we’ve got an image problem. Like Adam and Eve before us, we try to fix it with clothing. But it can only be truly fixed with the garments of Salvation which our Lord provides through his Son Jesus
“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”
Does this look all right? Do these go together or do they clash? Does this make me look fat? These are the kinds of questions we impose upon our beloved family members to answer before we go out in public. They are questions about clothing.
Whether we like it or not, clothing is an especially important part of our lives. A good portion of the floor space in any shopping mall is dedicated to clothing. We have closets and dressers that are full of clothing. In fact, most of us have so much clothing, that we don’t know what to do with it all.
It’s actually a growing problem. Subtle shifts in style and fashion are often to blame. When something is “in” we are pleased to wear it. But when something goes “out” we wouldn’t be “caught dead” in it. It is actually possible for a person to stare into an overflowing closet and say “I don’t have a thing to wear!”
Wouldn’t it be great if would all just agree to dress the same? We could all dress like the crew on the starship Enterprise. On that ship, the clothing situation was rather simple. If you were an engineer or part of operations division, you’d always wear a red shirt, like Scotty; if you were part of the command division, you’d always wear gold, like Captain Kirk; and if you were part of the science division, you’d always wear blue like Spock or McCoy. Of course, you’re probably thinking that I’m some sort of Star Trek nerd, and I am, but I’ll bet you that most of you already knew what color scotty and Spock and kirk wore, so cut me some slack. My point is, think how simple it would be if that’s how we all dressed. There would be no stress in the morning, about what you were going to wear, because you’d always wear the same thing every day. Wash day would be a snap: no clothing separation required because all of your clothes would be the same color. And people wouldn’t think ill of you for what you were wearing, because we’d all be wearing the same thing. It sure would solve a lot of problems.
But it wouldn’t work. It was actually tried before by Chairman Mao in Communist china. For years, everyone in China looked exactly the same with their blue/green outfits, right down to their matching floppy hats. And almost as soon as the cultural revolution fell out of favor, China had an explosion of color and style. The people went back to what they had inwardly wanted to do for years.
So what might we conclude from all of this about our use of clothing? Obviously, its more than protection from the elements. It’s more than simply a means to preserve our personal modesty. To put it succinctly, I think we use clothing to make ourselves feel better. We use it to accentuate what we consider our best features. We use it to downplay those aspects of our physic that we are not so proud of. In short, we use clothing to maintain a better “image” of our ourselves. And it just so happens clothing world offers us a wide variety of ready-made images that we can buy into. Which, of course, brings us to the ultimate question about clothing: Why do we feel the necessity to improve or bolster our image? Is there something wrong with our image?
What we have here is something from our everyday life in this modern world that telegraphs a deeper and most ancient spiritual truth. We are not the first generation to become so preoccupied with clothes you know. We are not the first human beings who have attempted to improve our image. No. This goes way back to the first human beings. Remember Adam and Eve. They were made in the image of God. But when they became sinful, when that perfect image was shattered, the first thing they did, was try to fix it. They made clothes for themselves out of leaves. It may have made them feel a little better, but it did not really fix the broken image they now had. For the inadequacy they now felt did not come as a result of their outward appearance, but from the sin that lay heavy upon their souls.
A new outfit can make you feel good about yourself, for a time, but then shortly thereafter, those same old feelings of inadequacy come bubbling up again. We are right to think that we need some sort of clothing to fix our broken image. But we are wrong to think that we can find that clothing in any store. For no matter what the fabric, or cut, or style no store-bought clothing will cover what truly needs to be covered.