Afterthoughts 2/10/2021

What to Wear?

Romans 13:14
Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Every day, every hour, every minute, we have a decision to make.  We decide what we will “put on,” what we will wear.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).  In our baptism, God has provided us with new clothing for our new life.  It is up to us, however, to decide to clothe ourselves in the garment God provides for our salvation lives. 

This injunction from Paul to put on Christ is more than simply a command or moral instruction.  Rather, it is to take hold of the fullness of what is offered to us in salvation.  One of the early church fathers, Gregory of Nyssa says,

“There is but one garment of salvation, namely, Christ.  Hence the ‘new man’ created in God’s likeness is none other than Christ.  One who has put on Christ has thus put on the new person created in God’s likeness.” 
God is making us new, restoring us in His own likeness.  Putting on Christ is our way of receiving and living in the fullness of this gift God offers.  

What does it look like to “put on Christ”?  Several ways to do this begin with prayer.  

Reciting the Lord’s Prayer, praying as Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray, may be what works for many.  For others, the answer may be “arrow prayers” – a short phrase or sentence than can be uttered to God in the middle of a jam or repeated as often as one needs to in order to feel he/she is properly clothed or protected in Christ.  The most common example of an arrow prayer is called “the Jesus Prayer”: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.  Other short, simple phrases that can be repeated or clung to in a pinch can come from the Psalms, such as: The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1), or The Lord is my strength and my shield (Psalm 28:6). 

Another ancient prayer practice for “putting on Christ” is making the sign of the cross.  From early on, Christians would make this sign over themselves to pray with their whole selves – mind, body, and soul.  It can also function as consciously “taking up the cross” and following Jesus.  Furthermore, in making the sign of the cross over oneself, one is invoking the power of Christ’s death and resurrection over sin, temptation, and evil. 

Whichever way you go about this or whatever “method” you use, the important thing is your sincere desire to put on Christ and to shun the desires of temptation and sin.  God will honor our heart’s intention of wanting to put on Christ and live by the power of the Holy Spirit.  God is more eager to give than we are to ask or receive. 

Pastor Ty