There are too many naked people in the church, spiritually speaking. If you are wondering, this refers to the imagery the Apostle Paul used in Colossians 3. He uses this image of taking off the old filthy garments or vices. He said, “Put them all aside (take them off): anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another since you laid aside (took off) the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:8-9 NASB). When we come to Christ, we must remove old, filthy garments. The vices listed above are some examples of the things that we must remove.
The church has gotten pretty good at telling people what they can’t do. We do an excellent job of letting people know which garments to remove. In fact, to many, Christianity is known as a bunch of rules and regulations. Christianity is not rules and regulations but a relationship with Christ. Sure, there are things that Christians should not participate in. But those things do not define Christianity; Christ does. Christianity is Christ, and without Christ, we are nothing. While we have gotten good at telling people what to take off, we have neglected to teach people what to put on. So, we are left with spiritually naked Christians who fail to look like Christ (maybe that is you).
The Apostle Paul does not make the same mistake as the church. Paul tells us what needs to come off, but he does not neglect telling us what to put back on. To Paul, we must remove the vices and put on Christ-like virtues. Paul said, “and have put on (notice that) the new self who is being renewed (renovated) to a true knowledge according to the image of the One (Christ) who created him” (Colossians 3:10 NASB). According to Paul, we take off the old self and put on the new self, which is being transformed into the image of Christ. He does not stop there. He gives us the list of garments or virtues we must put on in the place of the old, filthy clothes that were removed. He says, “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other” (Colossians 3:12b-13a NASB). That is a Godly wardrobe that could make an impact for Christ. Paul is not finished. An essential garment or virtue is still needed to be fully dressed in Christ. It would be like putting everything else on but walking out the door without your pants. Paul went on to say, “Beyond all these things (most important) put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14 NASB). We can’t forget about the most essential garment for the Christian: love. There are many counterfeit and perverted versions of love in the world. The thing that all of us need, those inside and outside of the church, is to experience the love of God. That love is real love and is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). What could happen if Christians were clothed in the love of God for everyone to experience? The church in America is filled with Christians dressed in fashionable attire. Some even wear costly clothes and shoes. I would offer that the most fashionable Christian is not dressed in fine clothing but in the virtues found in Colossians 3. The most attractive thing we can put on is love, just like Jesus. Get up and get dressed!
Pastor Josh May