Every day, a nun walks into a restaurant fully dressed in black and white robes, orders the most expensive thing on the menu, when she’s finished she leaves a massive tip and then leaves. After a week of this, the waiter’s curiosity finally got the better of him, so he asked her, “I thought nun’s were supposed to take a vow of poverty?”.
“Oh, I have no idea. I’m not a nun.” she replied.
Now very confused, he looked at her clothes and asked, “so why are you wearing that outfit?
“Oh, it’s just a habit” she answered.
We wear different clothes depending on who we are, what we do or where we belong. If we are a baker, we might wear an apron, if we are an astronaut, we would wear a space suit. We wear what is appropriate to the situation we are in. What then, does a Christian wear? Well, Paul addresses this in his letter to Colossians, but before telling us what we are to wear, he tells us what our situation is.
“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.”(v12)
These are the words of the apostle Paul that begin our reading! These nine words that, if I’m honest, when I first read the passage passage, I barely even noticed, are so important! They really do need our time and attention because they remind us of who we are, before we even begin to do anything they give us a context in which to look at everything that follows.
This may be new information to you, or it may just be a reminder, but either way it is so important to hear- you are dearly loved! God loves you so much! So much in fact that God the Father chose to send his only son to become flesh and bone, to experience human suffering and to die as a sacrifice for everything that you have ever done wrong and will ever done wrong. So that your sins could be forgiven. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to wash away our sins and make us holy in the eyes of the Father, despite all of our brokenness. So that those who believe in him can be raised from the dead just as Jesus was to spend eternity with the Father. That is how loved you are.
This is the blessed position that we are in, one where we are allowed to be with God forever, because he loves us enough to sacrifice for us. This is not a position that can be earned or bought, but one that we have been given – it is a gift.
So now that we have this gift, now that we know we are in this lovely position, Paul tells us how God wants us to respond, how the Christian is to dress. He says “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”(v12) He says we need to be showing these really good qualities. He continues, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Paul paints for us a picture of type of people, that he wants his people to be, and it is a really good picture. It’s a great picture and of course it. It’s not just a picture of what God wants his people to be like, he’s painted us here a picture of Jesus.
Compassion? That’s Jesus.
Humility, Gentleness, patience? It’s Jesus?
Forgiveness and bearing with others? Jesus
Binding it all together with love? What better example do we have of this than Jesus?
All we have to do is open up one of the gospels and read and we will come across stories of Jesus showing all of these qualities. As people who have been saved, then, God doesn’t just want us to be good, he wants us to follow the example of Jesus. He wants us to clothe ourselves in his ways. It’s worth spending some time looking through the gospels, reading the stories of how Jesus lived his life and then spending time praying and thinking about how much we may or may not follow his example – living by these values, living by love. Are we showing people who this Jesus is who gave us this wonderful gift?
It’s clear to see that the life of a Christian, is to be one of somebody who focusses fully on Jesus, following his example. If there’s any doubt in your mind that this what Paul is trying to tell us, listen to what he says next – “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” It’s all about Jesus, letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, letting the message of Christ dwell among us. It’s about filling our lives and the world around us with Jesus. With his message, with his peace and with his ways. This is the life that Paul is encouraging us to live, this is the life that God is calling us towards.
And it’s a life of gratitude, this gift we have been given is so wonderful and so undeserved, how can we not be grateful for it? Because of it we get to live a life full of Jesus – thanking God and praising God, not just on a Sunday morning but in everything we say and do – this is what it is to worship with our whole lives.
I think Paul sums it up nicely in verse 17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
We have been given this wonderful gift, now we get to spend our lives thanking God for it, following the ways of Jesus and showing him to the rest of the world.