A True Human Being
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
What Not to Wear is an American makeover reality television show based on a British show of the same name. The program currently airs on TLC in the United States and Canada. There are foreign versions in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. The Spanish title of the program is ¡No te lo pongas!--Don't Put it On!. I actually like the Spanish title better. What Not to Wear is hosted by Stacy London and Clinton Kelly
Episodes feature participants, or we could almost say victims, nominated by friends, co-workers, or relatives. Early episodes featured both men and women; however, the men's transformations were not popular, so all later episodes feature women.
When a woman is selected, the show secretly videotapes her for two weeks. Sometimes the nominee will be asked to participate in "market research," which is actually the What Not To Wear crew filming her for the show. Also, the nominators gain access to the “victim's” closet and point out examples of poor fashion choices.
While reviewing the secret film footage, Stacy and Clinton comment caustically on the nominee's wardrobe. They talk about "mom jeans" or outdated 1980s fashions. Then, the entire group goes to meet the surprised nominee. The nominee is offered a $5,000 debit card for the purpose of buying a new wardrobe if she will turn over her entire existing wardrobe to Stacy and Clinton and shop by their "rules." If the nominee accepts the terms of the offer, Stacy and Clinton review the secret footage with the nominee. Again they talk about how horrendous this person dresses. Then, the nominee is brought to New York City for a week of shopping, and hair and makeup styling. Throughout the week, the nominee frequently declares she is unable to find properly fitting clothes, she dislikes her body, or she does not care what people think.
On the first day, Stacy and Clinton sort through her wardrobe, and the participant steps inside the 360-degree mirror to explain what she likes about her outfit and why she thinks it looks good on her. After critiquing each outfit, Stacy and Clinton present a more appropriate outfit to the participant to illustrate the rules for the participant to follow when shopping for new clothes. Throughout the sorting process, most of her clothes are tossed in a large garbage can.
On the second day, the participant is filmed shopping on her own in various New York stores. Stacy and Clinton watch the videotape and comment on whether she is following their "rules."
On the third day, Stacy and Clinton surprise the participant and help her with the remainder of the shopping.
On the fourth day, a hair stylist and a make-up artist transform the participant's appearance.
On the fifth and last day in New York, the woman shows off her new look. Stacy and Clinton then comment on how her new "look" flatters her body and improves her appearance.
The last segment features a party in her hometown, where the woman parades before friends and family. With the credits rolling, the participant is shown in additional wardrobe items, commenting on what the experience did for her emotionally and how it improved her confidence.
Now I confess that I dislike the show. My wife likes the show, and I usually decide that is a good time for me to read a book.
I have never been a fashion-conscious person. I still remember my first encounter with fashion--dressing up for the high school prom. It was the first time in my life I had ever worn a bow tie or cuff links, or a cummerbund. That event pretty much convinced me that I never wanted to dress fashionably again. However, that is just me, and I do not want to put clothing down. The things people "put on" when they are dressing for work or play is a multi-billion dollar enterprise and a major part of the global economy.
My three granddaughter love to play "dress up." Beth has some old clothes and old high-heel shoes that give the grandchildren hours of fun.
Maybe that is one of the secrets of the popularity of the story of Cinderella. Every little girl is delighted when Cinderella's fairy godmother turns her rags into a beautiful gown, and produces the glass slippers. After that transformation, poor little Cinderella is ready to knock 'em dead at the royal ball, and her transformation is so complete that her mean old stepmother and nasty step sisters do not even recognize her as the girl who sweeps up the ashes at their house.
But let us go back to “what not to wear.” This is an issue that is as old as the Bible. You might say that Adam and Eve began the clothing industry by sewing a few fig leaves together. And if you remember the story in Genesis, God became a seamstress and provided more suitable garments for our first parents. So God is the first fashion designer.
Later on during the Exodus, God commanded Moses and Aaron to appear before the congregation of Israel and God gave specific instructions as to how Aaron (who would become the High Priest) was to be dressed. We read in Leviticus 8:6-9.
(6) And Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water.
(7) And he put the coat on him and tied the sash around his waist and clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him and tied the skillfully woven band of the ephod around him, binding it to him with the band.
(8) And he placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim.
(9) And he set the turban on his head, and on the turban, in front, he set the golden plate, the holy crown, as the LORD commanded Moses.
The issue of dress in the Bible easily moves from the idea of outward, physical clothing to inward, spiritual clothing. In our verse from Romans, Paul says, "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." The New International Version translates this as, "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." The Greek word is “endusasthe” and it is also used in v12 where Paul urges us to “lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
This idea of "clothing ourselves" with Christ or with the light is used throughout the epistles that have traditionally been assigned to Paul. As we explore the meaning of these words, we see an almost a Cinderella-like transformation in which we spiritually dress ourselves for living in God's kingdom. Though the kingdom has not yet come, we are encouraged to "dress" for the kingdom now. We are to come to the Master's royal ball ready to celebrate the joy of life as God designed it to be. Through Christ we have been transformed into authentic human beings. We have become what we were intended to be. We put on Christ, that is, the attitude and characteristics of Christ.
When the hour strikes midnight at this royal ball however, we do not return to the rags and cinders. This ball will begin in earnest when the Prince of Peace arrives to usher in the eternal banquet and all God's children will be forever dressed in garments of praise.
The whole concept of clothing ourselves with Christ begins at the beginning of our spiritual life. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is the beginning of a true human being. This is a turning away from an old life and embracing of a new life. Whereas we once "dressed up" as it were for the festivities of this world with all its broken values, now we "lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light."
As those who are "dressing up" for the kingdom of God and for the task of bringing hope to the world, we have a dual spiritual wardrobe--a wardrobe for war and a wardrobe for the building up of the Body of Christ.
First consider the wardrobe for war. We read in Ephesians a description of the "well dressed" person of faith who seeks to bring the light of Christ to a dark world:
(13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
(14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
(15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
(16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
(17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
This is a kind of parallel to Aaron's being dressed with the garments of a high priest, except in this case we are dressing for the war between light and darkness. The dress is compared to that of a soldier. It is reflected in the old hymn, "Stand Up, Stand Up, For Jesus." There are folk who find that hymn too militaristic, but this misses the point, which is that living a true human life in a world devoted to satanic values must result in conflict and struggle. It is a tough job for tough people, and Paul says we should dress according. This is not playing dress up. It is the wardrobe of the fully equipped person of faith who is committed to living for Christ in a pagan world. Think about the disasters that have plagued our corporate structures; think about the greed that has disemboweled the integrity of our free market system. If truth, righteousness, and faith were applied with single-minded commitment, things would be different. All of us, properly dressed for spiritual living today, can make a difference.
But there is another wardrobe we need, a wardrobe to Encourage the Body of Christ. People of faith need a strong family of faith in which to grow. It is in this community , the Body of Christ, that we mature and learn to "put on the gospel armor." In the letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul tells us how authentic human beings live with one another. We read,
(12) Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
(13) bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
(14) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
If story of Cinderella was a Christian story, there would be a complete transformation--not only of Cinderella, but of Cinderella's home and step family as well. The ball would not be for the few, but for the many. Transformed attendees of the royal ball would go into the world to invite, and indeed compel, all to come and experience the joy of life in the palace. We are called to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness and patience for one another. Forgiveness is the quality that allows for the free flow of love which is the fabric that binds us all together. The church is an outpost of divine love.
But there is another wardrobe we need. We need to dress for eternity. When all is said and done, when believers have at last completed their earthly task, there is one last "put-on:" We read in Corinthians: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54). There you have it. The true human being, clothed with Christ at the beginning of the life of faith, growing and serving dressed in the qualities and characteristics of Christ, embracing the good news that at last we shall all be fully dressed in eternity,
Dances with Wolves is a 1990 western movie directed by and starring Kevin Costner. It tells the story of a Union Army Lieutenant who has lost all concept of himself during the Civil War. He is stationed on the Frontier and finds himself as he encounters the Sioux or Lakota Indians. The movie won 7 Academy Awards. It was shot in South Dakota and Wyoming, and one unusual thing about the movie is that much of the dialogue is in the Lakota language with English subtitles.
There is one scene where the Lakota holy man Kicking Bird says to the Lieutenant, “I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life there is one that matters most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail and it is good to see.” to put that in Christian terms, Kicking Bird might have said, “You have found the trail of a true human being. It is the process of putting on Christ.”
Most people live their entire lives never finding their true self. They never find the person they were meant to be, nor do they develop themselves to their greatest potential. What Paul is saying in Romans is that it is time for us to start living the lives we were created to live, that is living the way Christ lived.
Jesus is our hero. Jesus is our role model. That is the way we are called to live. It is time for us to claim our authentic self and live to our fullest potential. To be authentic means to find the key to happiness and success within our self, not within society. Society usually means the external system of authority that consciously and unconsciously dictates the direction and behavior of our lives. Do you ever wonder why it is so important to live a certain way, with a certain car, in a certain house, to wear certain clothes. It is because society dictates that it be so. To be a true human being, you must free yourself from that cultural prison. You must open your mind and your life to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, you are being authentic.
When you put on Christ, you receive and believe the gospel and follow the way of Christ. It is the way that resonates with your inner being. You will not bind yourself with destructive habits, relationships or lifestyles. You will gain inner strength and let go of manipulation, power plays, cruelty and hatred. You will find that your life is being elevated to a higher spiritual level.
Teilhard de Chardin said, " We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”..That is certainly true, but the question is: As spiritual beings how do we have the truest and best human experience? We put on Christ. We love as he loved, we seek truth as he sought truth. We live as he lived.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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