But this is not the path of the Anointed One, which you have learned. If you have
heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him, thenyou know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self—that dark blot of a
soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust—to take a fresh breath and to let God renew
your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the
very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy.
These texts have always fascinated me. Just like we change clothes each day, we are to take off the old and put on the new. In these texts, the object of taking off is a variety of unacceptable behaviors, such as lust, immorality, wicked thoughts, greed, slander, and the like. I dare say that we all have a few things worth taking off. And, what do we put on: love, peace, compassion, patience, and truthfulness. We take off the clothes of the old life and put on the new life in Christ. OK, there is the nice clean spiritual discussion of these verses. But what about the ugly, hard-to-discard, old clothes.
As always, for me, this comes back to a song, and not surprisingly, a song by Randy Stonehill. He recorded a song in 1990 called "Old Clothes." Here are part of the lyrics.
SO MANY HEROES THAT NEVER CAME THROUGH
TOO MANY ROADS GOING NOWHERE
AND JESUS WAS WHISPERING "I STILL LOVE YOU"
AND WITH A LOVE THAT MAKES ALL THINGS NEW
SO I'M PACKING UP MY OLD CLOTHES WITH MY OLD AND FOOLISH WAYS
THEY DON'T SEEM TO FIT ME ANYMORE
I SEE THE LIGHT OF MORNING WITH DIFFERENT EYES TODAY
AND I'M GIVING MY TOMORROWS TO THE LORD
So often we wear the old clothes of hurt, anger, and frustration. Because we have moved on to a new place, those old clothes don't fit. In fact, we know that they don't fit, but we wear them anyway. Sara Groves spoke of this same phenomenon in her song, "Painting Pictures of Egypt." The song includes these lyrics:
I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacked
The future seems so hard and I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I"ve learned
And those roads closed off to me while my back was turned.
We escape an old life that we longed to leave, but we hold onto the old clothes--the things that keep us from moving forward into the brave new world that God has for us.We cling to the old because it is comfortable, even if it is outdated, dirty, and full of holes.
But sometimes, it becomes even worse. On the CD "Second Hand Clothing," Eli laments the clothes left behind by his father, found in an old box. These lyrics are painfully poignant to many people that I know:
I'm looking through a box my dad just sent me
Filled with hand me downs and things he once wore
He passed along his blessings and his curses
But mainly scraps and nothing more ... no nothing more
And I pray to God his shoes will never fit me
And I pray this isn't my inheritance
I've spent my lifetime dancing with his demons
They're constantly comparing him with me
They tell their lies as they look into my eyes and say
The apple doesn't fall far from it's tree ... and I pray oh Lord not me
Old man didn't gimme much more than second hand clothing
But Jesus wants more for me than second hand clothing, second hand clothing
Our world--whether our former way of life, our addictions, our choices, our failures, others' failures, our parents' failures, or just the challenge of the present and the future--leaves us a lot of second-hand clothing. But, we don't have to wear them! That is the miracle of Easter, isn't it? Jesus said, "Not my will, but yours be done," then he died, and then he rose from the death. He threw off the grave clothes, and now we can wear new clothes.
We can wear the new clothes of new life. The problem is that we often must peel off layers of the old clothes--layers of hurt, disappointment, abuse, pain, betrayal, and self-inflicted destruction. Let's make that our prayer this year. Let's live in our new resurrection lives. Let's leave behind the old, ragged, dirty clothes to wear the new clothes that Jesus has for us. Let's refuse to put the old clothes back on. Let's remember the pain, the stench, the suffering of the old clothes and leave them off, wearing the new clothes of Jesus instead. Will you join me?