Former Notre Dame football coach, Lou Holtz, once said:
We’re not what we want to be, and we aren’t what we ought to be, but praise God we aren’t what we used to be!
For the follower of Jesus, there is much truth to that statement. We’re not what we want to be—we’re not sufficiently Christ-like yet, but this is our present aim and our future reward.
Salvation is sometimes framed in terms of what we’re saved from, but the apostle Paul is quick to remind us that we are also saved for certain things. To put it another way, the goal of salvation includes a total transformation of who we are.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul exhorts followers of Jesus to “put off” certain things relating to sexual sin, anger, and inappropriate speech (Colossians 3:5-8). Paul then goes on to name particular traits that we should “put on” (Colossians 3:12). The language employed by Paul is the language of taking off, and putting on, an article of clothing. I appreciate Paul’s language here because it tells me that becoming more Christ-like is not automatic.
I did not wake up this morning in the clothes I’m presently wearing—I had to put them on. There was a thought process, there was a conscious decision, there was effort involved in putting on these clothes. Similarly, we shouldn’t think that naming Christ as our Saviour will automatically keep us from lust, greed, anger, and so on. There is a garment which must be consciously taken off, and a garment which must be consciously put on.
And while ‘d like to believe that in difficult situations the love of Christ will wash over me like a wave, I don’t suspect it will happen without me intentionally “putting on” the love of Christ.
I know of many Christian gatherings who excel at the “putting off” part—I know many Christian gatherings that are marked by what they don’t do, what they’re against, and what they abstain from.
While it is indeed good and important to “put off” what we used to be, my dream is for us to become known by what we’re for. My dream is that Christians, and the communities in which they gather, will become known for their excellence in”putting on” Jesus Christ and His love.
And since this process is not automatic, I’d like to challenge you to think about consciously “putting on” Jesus Christ and His traits each and every day. I’m confident that if you do this you will make great progress in becoming the person you long to be and the kind of person this world desperately needs.
Have a listen to the audio below. As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.