Meet Pastor Joe. He’s a flaming legalist who is need of a complete makeover. His wardrobe consists of religious rags that he bought somewhere years ago while he was still in seminary. The sad thing is that he thinks they’re still stylish. Somebody needs to tell him that the Old Covenant clothes are out. That cutting edge Apostle named Paul put it like this: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). Pastor Joe needs to come into the New Covenant and try on grace for size.
His closet is filled with worn out suits of self-sufficiency that don’t fit him anymore. But he still tries to squeeze into them nonetheless. He knows that they aren’t comfortable to wear, but doesn’t realize there is a better wardrobe available to those who have discovered that they can get their clothes from Abba’s closet. There, any Christian can find tailor-made garments of grace that fit every occasion. And the best part of it all is that there’s no price to pay. All the grace garments have already been paid for and are available at no cost to the recipient.
A big problem with Pastor Joe’s wardrobe is that he has influence over others whom he has caused to dress the same way. Can you remember the time in American history when men all went to work wearing “leisure suits?” This is even worse. It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.
I love you, Pastor Joe. I love you enough to be honest with you about your wardrobe. You need a makeover – in a bad way. Believe me when I say that I’m not judging you. I dressed the same way you do for most of my life, but I’ve found a better way. That’s why I’m motivated to share some faith-fashion tips with you that somebody shared with me at a time when I badly needed them.
I hope you aren’t offended by my analogy and the comparison I use. Truthfully, I used the words “flaming legalist” just to get your attention. It’s not intended to be an insult. I suppose that it’s my way of attempting to lighten my approach to a sensitive subject by trying to use a little humor to make a serious point. There’s just not an easy way to tell a man that how he is dressed isn’t working for him – or for those around him. “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny” is seldom well received by anybody of any age.
But the truth is that there are some things that you need to take off and others that you need to put on. This makeover strategy didn’t start with me. The Apostle Paul once found a group of Christians still wearing the old, out of style clothes of the Old Covenant and he plainly told them to take off some things and put on others. (Read Ephesians 2:22-24, Colossians 3:8-14.)
Many pastors only have one suit and that’s the one they always wear. Worse yet, they usually peddle to their congregations. I know because for years I was a leading distributor of this brand name.
The Rags of Religious Ritual
For years I encouraged members of my church to “do the right things.” “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” was one of my favorite verses. In fact, I’d beat them over the head with it. “God knows your level of faithfulness!” I would pronounce in my best “Isaiah-woe-is-you-if-you-don’t-get-it-right” tone of voice.
My emphasis was on how people ought to look in terms of their outward behavior. “Don’t be a spiritual slacker” was the underlying theme I applied to myself and my congregation. While I would never have said it directly, I implied that if you do all the right things, the rest will sort itself out. Read your Bible, pray, come to church, give your money, witness to your neighbor, etc. Those are the foundations of Christian living, I believed.
The Garment of Grace
If you’ve read my first book, Grace Walk, you know how God finally stripped me spiritually naked after I moved to Atlanta. Once I found myself standing there before Him in my birthday suit, I was ready to put on whatever He had in His closet for me.
As things turned out, He covered me with the garment of grace. I’ve worn it all these years since. It fits so well! It is comfortable, functional and enjoyable to wear! I wouldn’t go back to the old wardrobe for anything.
Not only do I wear this Bible brand now, but I’m also a distributor of this line. Try the garment of grace on for size. You won’t be disappointed!