Summary: A sermon discussing being clothed in Christ and casting out culture and class in the church.
What Not to Wear
Pastor Leslie A. Rutland-Tipton
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
A few years ago a show came out on BBC television called “What not to wear.” Another show also aired here in the US. The premise of the show was two fashion consultants would get some video of a person who had been “nominated” by friends and family as a fashion disaster. The consultants would comb over this video and comment on what the person was wearing, how bad it looked, how it did this and that to their figure and their persona, and then they would show up at their home or work, and get them to agree to a two day shopping spree/makeover. The beginning of their journey with the nominee was always a run through of their current wardrobe, during which most of it was tossed.
In our Scripture today we read of another wardrobe makeover, but one of a very different kind.
Paul has written a letter to the church in Galatia. And in that letter is where we find our Scripture reading today. And we are going to see in our lesson today three points; Clothing, Class, and Christ. Clothing, Class, and Christ.
So let’s move on to point one in what not to wear, shall we?
Verse 27 in our reading today says “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
It’s an interesting term, “clothed yourself with Christ.” And this comes from, of course, the translation of the Koine Greek language in which the New Testament was written. So let’s go back, if you will with me, to the original greek.
To “clothe” is pronounced “EN DOO O,” say that with me, EN DOO O. And what this word means is to put on a garment and to sink into it. Have you ever put on a really nice jacket or robe and it felt so good that you just sink into it?
No? Ok, let me help you with this one. A few years back I stayed at a really nice hotel. I mean REALLY NICE. We’re not talking Motel 6 here. We’re talking, fancy comforters on the bed, fridge in the room, smelly good bathroom products that somehow reproduced themselves every time I left the room, and a really soft, heavy white robe. One morning I took a shower (I do that sometimes) and put on that robe. I thought I had gone to heaven. That robe was the best thing in the whole world. I literally sank into it onto the bed. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything, or talk to anybody. I was at one with my robe!
That’s what en doo o means. To sink into. But, there’s more. You see Paul, being well familiar with Roman culture as he was, when he wrote this passage, was not referring to a hotel robe.
Most cultures have rites of passage, subtle ways of marking socially, religiously, or culturally that you are no longer a child but a grownup. Jews, for instance, have bar mitzvahs for boys and bat mitzvahs for girls at about the age of puberty, which is when rites of passage usually take place. (One explanation of some of the difficulty of our contemporary culture is that we don't have many rites of passage.)
The reference in Galatians 3:27 that we just read, "You...have clothed yourselves with Christ," is almost certainly a reference to a Roman rite of passage. A young man would don a special toga signifying manhood at about the age of puberty. In the movie The Gladiator, one of the anxious moments is when it seems the hero may not make it back home to see his son go through the rite of donning his toga.
Using references to various cultures and the familiar idea of desiring our children to grow up, Paul is helping us to long for maturity in our own lives.
Paul is saying, “don’t wear that anymore, because now that you are clothed in Christ, you get to wear this, or him.”
Paul wants us to see ourselves as that mature person in Christ, growing up in Him, no longer being immature and being, as Ephesians 4:14 says, tossed back and forth by the waves.
Don’t wear that garment of youth any longer, for you are now wearing the toga, the garment of adulthood. You are clothed with Christ.