What to Wear as a Child of God: Love
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Last week Steve and I had the privilege of meeting in our semiannual gathering with the leaders of five other ministries to students. We talked at length about the divisive issues that face us today as we share the gospel.
One of the women asked me what I thought would be the key to breaking through to the hearts and minds of students. My answer: Love. “What will that look like?” she asked.
I think it is the life of Jesus lived out tangibly. We do what he did at the beginning of His ministry: “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-15)
We also take to heart Jesus’ words announcing His ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”f (Luke 4:18-19 from Isaiah 61:1-3)
Jesus didn’t separate His ministry into proclamation gospel and social action gospel. He preached the Kingdom of God, he healed the sick. He called people to repent, He fed the hungry. He challenged people to “sin no more” and He offered mercy and grace. He called his disciples to holiness and He touched lepers. It was all love in action.He went even further: Love God, He said, and others as yourself. Love as I have loved--laying down my life for you. (Luke 10:27; John 13:34-35)
Paul affirms the same emphasis. He has encouraged us to put on the clothing of Jesus: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness. And then he adds: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
When Steve and I got married we were given a traditional Japanese wedding cup, like the one pictured above. Inscribed on it were the words from our verse above: Love binds them together in perfect unity.
Our friend who gave it to us explained that the concept of binding together was explained by the Japanese “obi.” The obi is the sash that holds a kimono together. The wedding blessing on the cup was that love would hold together all that we had committed to each other.
In the same way, Paul indicates that love is the “obi” that binds together all that Christ has called and empowered us to be. Are we naturally full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness? Not so much. But love motivates us, equips us, empowers us and moves us to action.
Love is the final and essential piece in the beautiful wardrobe Jesus always wore and has bequeathed to us. As we put on love—the life-sacrificing kind of love Jesus lived—we will find ourselves increasingly clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness.
This exquisite apparel will captivate the hearts and minds of those to whom we proclaim the gospel of Christ’s love, mercy and grace. And of course will be perfectly befitting of our Savior’s Bride.
What about you? How are you living out the love of Christ?
C2016 Judy Douglass