During the Olympics many of us are watching runners in a variety of events. I am old enough to remember the fad of streaking. Streakers stripped off all clothing and raced through university quads. This combination of exhibitionism and prank, fortunately, did not last long, but a spiritual version has continued in the Christian community.
Many Christians have plunked on the “helmet of salvation” and begun “the race set before us” as spiritual streakers! In Ephesians 6 Paul reminds us that there are other necessary elements to Christian apparel. Righteousness is vital. Christ’s righteousness imputed to us is the virtue that allows us standing as children of God. In other places we read injunctions to “put on Christ”. We are to live out this righteousness in our lives if we are going to truly be clad with Christ! This means while trusting in his perfect righteousness, I imperfectly live a life which imitates his in love, justice, and mercy, otherwise I am streaking.
Paul speaks about peace. Through Jesus we have peace with God, though we were once enemies. It is crucial that we know this peace which passes all understanding, but if we do not live as agents of peace in the world we streak!
On the passage goes to speak of truth and faith. These are necessary to us personally and need to be expressed in our lives or we streak! Like the Emperor of fable, the Church (the Bride) parades before the wondering eyes of lost, unaware that she is “poor, wretched, naked and blind”. This would be funny if it weren’t so sad!
I spend time with those on the outside of the Church and they often point these comic/tragic flaws. I readily admit to my own imperfect attire. I love to point at those areas where I see the Bride clothed in beauty. I tell my friends of Christ who stands at the door ready to feed and clothe us spiritually so that we can imitate him in this world.
I spend time with ex-offenders. Several times when I first met a guy he would rant and rave at the “system”. They often thundered and threatened. These initial encounters always took me aback. I would wonder “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” In each case as I have hung in with my raging friend they have changed. Over time I saw their tempers cool and I witnessed them begin to care for others and their feelings. This miracle has been repeated so often that I have begun to ask guys what has made the difference. They tell me that it is the acceptance they find in our little community. They enjoy this and begin to imitate the ethic until it becomes their own.
Our righteousness is imperfect and perhaps rag like but as we seek to imitate Christ, something of his beauty shines through.
We will be most beautiful if we are dressed in the Christ at the door, rather than by Christian Dior!