Friday, June 8, 2012

Beautiful People

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12–14 (NASB95)

Ah . . . the Beautiful People
I saw the cover of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People in the World” issue the other day. Names of stars like J-Lo, Brad Pitt and Ryan Reynolds adorned the cover. When I realized how misguide the American public is I became sad. You see, I might be fifty two years old, yes I’ve put on a few extra pounds, but hey I didn’t even get an honorable mention! What are you laughing at? You didn’t make it either!

What Non-Believers Are Saying
Kidding aside, the data is in. The image of Christianity that a lost world says it sees is not the image of Christ and that has everything to do with what Christians are wearing these days. No . . . I’m not talking about your Prada hand bag or your Armani power suit. I’m talking about your spiritual clothing. You might even call it your uniform. And here’s what non-believers are saying about it. . .”When I see them lined up at political events, hurling insults at people and holding mean signs, I think to myself, if there really is a heaven, and it’s filled with people like this, then I don’t want to go there because I don’t want to be with these people.” And what about this one? “Hell? That’s easy to define. It would be spending eternity with evangelicals.”

What Non-Believers Are Seeing
According to multiple national surveys, one that was even conducted by a Christian research firm, non-believers don’t describe how they view Christians in very Christ-like terms. Instead of looking upon humility they see pride. Instead of being shown compassion they’re shown condemnation. Where relationship should reign nonbelievers are experience the rough rule of religion. When they should be given the Gospel, they’re given a cold shoulder. Truthfully, it’s time that we see for ourselves how ill-fitting the clothes of bitterness and fear are on the body of Christ. Colossians 3:8 has something interesting to say about these things that ties in rather well with this portrait of what Christians are wearing these days.

Colossians 3:8  “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy and filthy language out of your mouth.”

This phrase “put off” is very, interesting. In the original language it means to lay aside, but more specifically to lay aside clothes, to take off arms or clothes. In other words, Paul is telling us that because we have been raised with Christ we shouldn’t be wearing the clothing, the uniform if you will, of the enemy.

Whose Uniform Are You Wearing
When I was a kid in the sixties I thought uniforms were pretty cool. Just about everywhere you went, people at work wore uniforms. Doctors wore lab coats and nurses wore Florence Nightingale outfits with crisp, knee-length skirts and stiff nurse’s caps that magically remained in place. Even ice cream store clerks had uniforms. It seemed that everywhere you turned people distinguished their calling in life with the uniforms they wore. Come to think of it, even the little plastic toy soldiers we played with had uniforms that were distinctly German, Japanese or American. I guess there is something to be said for a war where one knows what the enemy looks like. Did you know that the Geneva Convention requires that combatants wear uniforms? It also prevents soldiers from impersonating the enemy by wearing the wrong uniform. You see, when either one of those things occurs confusion reigns and civilians don’t know whom to trust. They don’t know to whom they can safely run. They don’t know which side is speaking the truth. Well, the same is true for non-believers today who find themselves in the midst of the cross-fire of a cultural guerilla war. They’re having a difficult time distinguishing the difference between the good guys from the bad guys. So I ask you. What uniform are you wearing? Do you have confidence in the belief that a non-believer will come to you for information on where they can escape the onslaught of the enemy? Or is it possible that they confuse you WITH the enemy.

God Is In Control
Now I know that all around us the moral fabric of American culture seems to be unraveling one thread at a time. It is right and it is good to be concerned. However, we must be careful not to let our concern turn to a siege mentality. The main reason is that God is still on His throne and He is still in control. But another reason is that a siege mentality can cause one to respond to others in ways that are unbiblical and unChristlike. And that’s what Paul is teaching us here in Colossians 3:12-14. He’s telling us that clothing ourselves in Christ is the same thing as clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. But most importantly he’s telling us that the ultimate feature of the believer’s uniform is love.

So ask yourself today, “When people look at me, do they see Christ?” . . . “Is the outward appearance that I’m projecting one which brings honor and glory to the Living God by exemplifying his compassion, kindness, humility and most of all love?”

Scripture to claim:
Romans 6:4–5 (NASB95)
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 

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