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Monday, March 4, 2013

Dress me well!

Direct:  The shortest course to something or someone; proceeding in an unbroken line.  If you have ever had "direct access" to someone by using a special "back line", you know this access has some special meaning.  In fact, if someone trusts you enough to give you the "back line" number, this says much about the relationship, doesn't it?  In healthcare, we have some remote monitoring capabilities these days, allowing an individual to observe a bank of monitors, video feeds, etc., all in the interest of observing the condition of the patient.  One of the features of this type of remote monitoring is the capability of reaching someone immediately when changes are observed.  It is imperative to have a "back line" feature built into this type of monitoring capability.  Why?  Changes occur rapidly and to intervene in the right timing, with the most purposeful and accurate actions, access must be guaranteed.  I wonder if the same applies with change in our lives?

By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.  (Galations 3:25-27 MSG)

Paul writes to the Galations about this "immediate access" we now have as a result of the actions of Christ on our behalf.  In fact, the church at Galatia were split - some coming from the Jewish faith and others being "engrafted" into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  This split caused some strife which required Paul's intervention.  You see, the Jewish believers were still hung up on the need to "perform" their way TO God.  The non-Jewish believers only knew about the actions God performed on the way to BRINGING them to God.  One saw what they had to DO, the other saw what God had already DONE.  So, as he concludes the analysis of this discourse, he draws out the point of it not being what we DO, but what has been DONE on our behalf which gives us ACCESS to the tremendous storehouse of God's grace and power.  Immediate access guaranteed not because of a set of rules one keeps, but because of the actions of someone "intervening" on our behalf through the means established to accomplish this action on our behalf - much like the doctors who remotely monitor the patients in our hospitals today.

The means for direct access to the throne-room of God is nothing more than Christ himself.  He is the "direct line", so to speak, to all we need for both our salvation and our sanctification (the cleaning up of our actions, attitudes, and thoughts).  We are in "direct relationship" with God himself - no need for a middle man, nor is there a need for anyone to intervene on our behalf - we have access ourselves (the back line).  With this thought well-established, Paul puts out another thought we will focus on this morning - the idea of not just being "washed up" for a fresh start, but being "fully attired" in a wardrobe befitting this relationship.  If you have ever observed the "wardrobe" changes of others, you are likely to see some very interesting changes which occur over the course of growing more mature.  

As a younger person, the more trendy and "hip" fashions may have an appeal. If you have ever tried some of these "trendy" fashions, you will likely admit some had merit because they were comfortable, required very little upkeep, and just made you feel good.  Others, while making you look good, were a little less comfortable and took a great deal of attention to keep the "look" just right.  As we grow older, some of the "fashions" we thought were really "good" on us seem to change.  If you don't think I am right on this matter, then I only have to ask how many of you go home, remove your "trendy attire" and then lounge in something with elastic at the waistline?  As we grow a little more mature, we see the "hip" trends of today becoming a little less important.  In fact, we likely "settle into" a certain "style" for our attire which really is more practical, easier to keep up, and makes no particular statement.  

I have to ask what "statement" you are making with your "attire"?  In the natural sense, you could probably size me up as "predictable" or "practical" - coming to this conclusion because I wear a lot of basic colors and an vary my tops only slightly to add a splash of color to the mix.  My clothing allows me to be flexible - neat, but practical.  In a spiritual sense, my "attire" is not much like my outward attire, though.  In the most literal sense, I am clothed with grace - something I need to wear often - almost like an undergarment.  It is worn quite close to my heart.  As such, it covers my most intimate parts - parts Jesus sees, but the world often does not.  I am also clothed with perfection - not my own, but that of Christ.  This is almost like an outer garment - something which puts "on display" the actions of grace in my life.  Grace is the undergarment, but Christ's perfection is the outer.  Both fit very well, are quite "comfortable" to wear, and are really an "attire" chosen by the most "fashionable"!

I wear other garments, as well.  Sometimes I need to don the garment of praise - lifting my spirit into the realm of rejoicing which bolsters my mind, filling me with delight.  This garment is kind of like the jeweled blouse, frilly and beautiful.  It delights the eye, catches the attention of the one it is worn for, and dazzles his heart.  I also don a protective garment - much like a person would don a raincoat in wet weather.  Is it not the purpose of this garment to keep me dry on the inside of that outer garment?  The protection it provides is only good if I put it on.  So, in in order to be in a place of protection, I must be prepared with the garment.  This is more of a practical garment - not very "pretty" as you look upon it, but very protective in its purpose.  

So, what do all these garments have to do with having the "back line" to God?  I think it might have something to do with knowing someone oversees our "dressing" each day.  God gives us new grace each day, to attire our hearts.  He gives us fresh garments of perfection, to revitalize our minds and bring purpose to our actions.  He offers new jewels and frills through our times of praise - so our spirits remains constantly adorned with that which reflects the beauty within.  We only need to "pick up" the "back line" to find access to all we need in the way of our "attire".  We don't have to weave the fabric ourselves.  We don't have to construct the garments on our own.  They are prepared for us - we access them via the "back line" - direct access through Christ Jesus.  Just sayin!