Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Just Clothing!

I like a nice shirt just like the next guy.  And I must admit, I am kinda label conscious, but I feel a little guilty buying a shirt that costs as much as a new TV.   Most of my shirts are gifts from thoughtful and generous family and friends, (so I get the lessened guilt of someone else buying it for me).   I do like to wear the ones with a horse, rider and a mallet, they seem to make clothes that look nice and last a few chukkers.

My kids have started Whale hunting a lot lately.  Fortunately for their Summer job budget, most of their successful hunts have been at the thrift store or on sale somewhere in a discount setting where they harpooned a slightly older Whale, culling the pod.  A little survival of the fittest in the clothing biome.

Why do we like labels so much? Does it help us feel like we belong to a certain group? Does it help us identify with those around us?  Does it help us feel better about ourselves?

I don't know for certain the answer to these questions, but felt like I had to ask them.  My sociology background tells me we all want to feel like we fit in somewhere. We all want to belong to a desirable group and sometimes a uniform can help; even if the uniform is just a certain clothing label. From my experience though the labels don't generate the kind of connection we are all desperate for. The clothes don't make a man, I guess, or a friend.

The desire for a label says, "I want to be liked, included, or connected to you".  Or perhaps, "I want to be envied by you, because I am in the 'cool', 'in', or 'hip' group."

Jesus knows our bent.  He knows our desire for connection...our need for inclusion... our need for an identity.  He addressed it in His longest recorded sermon:

Jesus says, in Matthew 6:25-33 (Message version) "If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26 Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. 27 "Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28 All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29 but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 30 "If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31 What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. 32 People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Jesus says in Matthew 6:30 (NIV) that our view of clothing can be a faith issue... He says,"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"  If we obsess about wearing the "right" clothes, it could be pointing to our need for trusting Him more.

His labels are not worn on the chest of the shirt, but a little deeper inside, on the heart, And they are not an expression taken off and put into the laundry, but worn all the time.  We are loved by the King! We belong to Jesus! We are a part of the body of Christ!  

Don't worry about fabric so much, it's just clothing, just temporal.  But rejoice in His grace and love, His forever connection and acceptance.  God sent His Son to wear one of these earth suits, so He could save us and identify with us and model true connection. 

Next time you are in the closet wondering what to wear, thank God for the way He clothes us. We can identify with Him by the way we treat others, it is more endearing than sharing a clothing label. We can be thankful for His provision for us. Put your Jesus on.