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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Overalls anyone?

I saw a sign the other day which read, "Love is faith in overalls".  Let that one sink in a little, but don't lose sight of the image it conjures up, as well.  Think of you in overalls.  When I thought about overalls for a moment, I envisioned two types - the ones made of denim worn as the replacement to pants by a farmer, and the ones which slip over your clothes.  They are different, aren't they?  One is actually the "clothing" you wear - without them, you'd be a little naked.  The other is only a covering "over" our clothes - we don't actually take off our clothes, but are protecting what is underneath by this outer layer of cloth.  Now, back to our quote - which type of "overall" would you equate with love?  The type you wear "over" yourself, or the type which becomes what you might refer to as what really "clothes" you?

For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. (Galations 5:6 MSG)

I think the author of our quote might really have been saying what Paul said here to the Galation church - faith expresses itself.  There is action to faith - not just some set of rules, ethereal beliefs, or standards by which we live.  There is a definite "outflow" from what is on the inside.  Paul was really dealing with the idea of the two sets of overalls - one merely covers over, the other becomes that which clothes us well.

We often attempt to equate love with something other than faith - but the two go hand in hand.  Our society has a very distorted idea about love, so understanding it from the perspective of scripture is important.  Love is not a set of emotions or something we "fall into".  It is indeed a deeply-rooted "outflow" of something within us.  If we remember this, we might be less inclined to "fall into" it, but rather allow it to "flow out" of us!

Paul's focus is on the interior of our lives.  The type of overalls I described the farmer wearing is worn very close to his body.  There is not a whole lot between his nakedness and the outside world!  I think this is the kind of faith God looks for in us - the kind which is not afraid to be genuine.  The world needs genuine people - those who admit their mistakes, don't give an air of perfection, but rather reveal both the genuineness of their humanity and the reality of their connection with Christ's forgiveness.  The farmer's overalls don't mask his nakedness.  I think of those overalls as doing what grace does in our lives - they provide a covering for our sin or nakedness.

Too many times, we seem to settle for just "covering up" the things which we think the world doesn't need to see.  We wear our "faith" like a pair of "coveralls" - merely covering over all the other "layers" of stuff underneath.  We never really get genuine with people - choosing instead to mask what it is we "wear" and "bear" under an outer protective barrier.  The one who dons the mechanic's coveralls wants nothing more than a barrier - hoping to strip them off and see everything just as it was when he put them on.  The problem is that we never really allow others to see us as we really are.

The farmer gets his overalls on knowing he might just get a little dirty, wet, and even a little sweaty in his daily dealings - he will be "real" in his activity and his activity will produce "real" outcomes which might just affect him a little, as well.  He also knows he can take these overalls off at the end of the day, bathe, and be as fresh as a daisy.  In other words, in being genuine, we might find ourselves affected by what we touch.  In the end, we can always return to the place of grace - the place of cleansing and renewal.  Love isn't afraid to get itself dirty - the genuine expression of faith in action.

Some time in the 70's bib overalls were "fashionable" for a brief period of time.  We chose to sport them as our clothing because they were "cool".  Some sewed all kinds of patches on them, making various statements.  Others embroidered things on them, jazzing them up.  Still others wore them just as they were.  They came in colors - not just the plain blue denim.  They were the "thing" we wore.  It was short-lived, as most fads are.  But...there is something I remember about those overalls - they were really comfortable to wear!  You felt very relaxed in them - movement was easy, there was plenty of room in them, and you just knew you could do almost anything in them. 

There is something about grace which allows us to move freely, almost as though we had "room" to be real.  When love is met with love, genuineness is easy.  Maybe it is time for us to consider which type of "love" we are "wearing" - the type which only covers over who we really are underneath, or the type which reveals the genuineness of our person.  Just sayin!