It’s the middle of winter and the temperatures have been going back and forth for quite some time now. At the beginning of the season, it was warmer than usual and now the thermometer has dropped in the last week and many people are getting ill. Kristin’s heat went out last evening – it was the result of water damage to the furnace from the drain line on the humidifier. We offered to let her stay here with the boys, and the dog, but it was too much trouble for her to get everyone packed up, so they just bundled up and stayed home.
This morning, Bob, our friend who happens to be our HVAC guy, came over and fixed everything. The heat is back on and the temperature is returning to normal. All this talk of changing seasons and the need to put away the summer wardrobe and dress for winter has me thinking. In fact, this fall I purchased a new outer coat that didn’t hold up very well. I ended up trying a second one with much the same result. So, the store provided me with an upgrade due to all the issues I had with the first 2 jackets.
Now the reason I am so fussy is that I tend to wear a heavy sport coat in the winter as an overcoat. Especially when I fly, I get cold in transit and so I keep my coat on during the entire flight. And I tend to be a creature of habit, so even though I have a number of overcoats and jackets, I get in a rut and wear the same coat day after day. In fact, last Friday, one of my co-workers was mimicking me, all in good fun, and the first thing he did was to put on my coat. Of course, everyone got a kick out of it, including me, but it illustrated a very important point. That is, that most of us are identified by the clothes we wear. Whether it’s jewelry or a certain outfit, or a special coat, like in my case, we are known by things that are unique to us.
That’s similar to the way it was in the times of the Bible. Around the time of Christ, it was common for people to only own one coat. They wore it from the time it was new until the time that it almost literally fell apart. That meant that when someone was still in the distance, he/she could usually be identified by the coat they were wearing. And since the person only owned one coat, and no two coats were exactly the same (they were all hand made), an outer coat became a sort of identity, synonymous with the person who was wearing it.
Although I never thought about it until now, I suppose that theft was not a problem, as the entire community would be on the look-out for a coat that didn’t belong to someone. Also, when your coat got so old that it was falling apart, and the day came when it was necessary to finally replace it, it was very likely that you would run into an identity problem – nobody would know who you were until your coat became familiar to everyone. Stated another way, until people got used to your new garment, it would be difficult to tell who you were.
That’s the same thing that Christ wants for each us – for us to put on a new coat. Before we followed Christ, we were destined to eternal separation from God. But once we accepted the gift of eternal life – becoming Christ followers, we are told that we are to act different – we are to be humble, kind, gracious and a host of other traits too numerous to mention. We are to be easily identified by our behavior – no longer of the world’s way, but of God’s way. And biblically, that’s what it means to put on a new coat. We are to arm ourselves with the attributes of being a new creation in Christ – “dressing” the part, if you will.
The verse for tonight is a short one – from 2Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” And what does that mean? That we are to “dress” differently – that people should be able to recognize us from a distance by the way that we act – having put on the new coat of salvation. My encouragement is that you will consider putting on a new coat, and wearing it with pride. After all, we are held to a higher standard and God wants people to recognize us from a great distance. My prayer is that God will bless your effort and that your new coat, designed exclusively for you, and handmade by God Himself, will always keep you warm and safe. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…