“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 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” (Colossians 3:12-14).
There is a dynamic relationship between what you wear and what you are. Put on a state trooper uniform with one of those flat rimmed hats, and no matter who you are, you suddenly project an air of authority. Put on a nurse’s uniform, and you project something that enables people to trust you, even though they may never have met you. As the old saying says, “The clothes make the person.”
St. Paul would agree. He tells the Colossians to put on a very specific style of uniform. In Colossians 3:11, he begins by telling us that there is a unity in the church. Paul says, “there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” He could have been preaching to us at Hope Church: “There is no Anglo or Hispanic or Asian. There is no Black or White. There is no white collar worker or blue collar worker. But Christ is all, and is in all.”
Christians are united in such a way that no matter what else may divide us, Christ unites us. Paul tells the Colossians that Christians should be united, and then in verse 12 he tells us to put on the uniform — “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” The uniform of the Christian is a set of attitudes. Now when we clothe ourselves, we project an image. And Paul wants us to project an image as we clothe ourselves with these attitudes.
There are five items in the Christian wardrobe – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We could go through each of these five items and study it and unravel it – and we could learn a lot about how to live the Christian life. In fact, we could spend weeks on compassion. We could spend months on kindness. We could spend a lifetime studying humility. Of course, we would probably spend only ten minutes studying patience because we’re in too big of a hurry.
But if you look at each one of these items that Paul says we need to clothe ourselves in, they all boil down to only one uniform. And that’s love.
Every one of these items is simply a characteristic of love. In fact, if you have your Bibles handy, turn to I Corinthians 13. The subject of that chapter is, of course, love. Paul begins this great chapter by saying, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” And Paul continues by talking about the importance of love.
Love is central to everything in the Gospel. You cannot live the Christian life without living a life that seeks to master the ability to love other people. When Jesus was asked, what are the two great commandments, his answer was love. In Matthew 22, He said very plainly, “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is what our lifestyle as Christians ought to be about.
And all of these garments Paul tells the Colossian Church to clothe themselves in – each one is nothing more than a simple expression of a different facet, or expression, of love. I find this very interesting and, at the same time, rather challenging, don’t you? I mean after all I know we are supposed to love everyone, but really? Paul would say, “Yes! Really!”
Now let me be quick to say before you think I am fussing at you, that I think our Hope Church family’s strong suit is just that, LOVE! As I stand in the pulpit each Sunday, I have that overwhelming feeling that we genuinely love each other and anyone who comes to worship with us. I can see it in your faces and I hear it on your lips.
As a matter of fact, I believe that is one of our strong suits. I can’t tell you how many times visitors to our services have told me how they feel so at home at Hope Church. And that is why many of them choose to return regularly. So, I just want to encourage you to keep on doing what you are doing! Lets make sure that we welcome with Christian love everyone God sends to us and I feel sure that we will continue to grow as God gives the increase.
Don’t forget that next Sunday, July 2, we will recognize the July 4th holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire. We will also observe the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Our scripture lesson will be taken from II Chronicles 7:11-16 and the message is entitled “Can America Return to God?” Hope you can be with us.
Until then, HAVE A GREAT WEEK WITH JESUS!
Sincerely His then yours,