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Putting on the light of Christ…………………………
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work He began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! The Message Romans 13:11-14
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Romans 13: 11&12NIV
I am not a morning person but some mornings you are excited to get up because the day ahead is extra special. Maybe you’re going on a trip, it’s you birthday, your wedding day or your starting a job after being unemployed for a long time. The morning is filled with anticipation, excitement and expectation. This at its core is really what the coming of Jesus Christ is about. It’s about the expectation, anticipation and the excitement. It’s not about fear or dread of judgment. We tend to hear those catastrophic texts about the coming of Christ and with it come a sense of fear of God’s wrath and judgement.
“The day is near,” as Paul writes, tends to fill us with dread rather than excitement. To be fair, Jesus’ parable about the second coming of Christ gets us thinking people will be swept away like in the flood of Noah, one person will be taken, other left, and the Son of Man will come like a thief in the night…these are dramatic and scary images. So it is no wonder we feel afraid. But I think what these dramatic images are trying to convey not a sense of fear but rather a sense of urgency. It is a fact that Jesus’ coming ought to evoke strong feelings in us but it is an urgency and rather than fill us with a sense of dread it is meant to leave us with a sense of excitement.
Do you know what time is? Wake up! Christ is coming! Rather than simply being a scare tactic, I wonder if the urgency of the language around the coming of Christ is meant to reflect for us the fact we are so excited for Christ’s coming we want to live in God’s abundance right now. Let’s see Christ in the world and in each other right now, not just when He comes again like a thief in the night.
This idea of the urgency behind seeing Christ right now, as well as when he comes again, is beautifully described by Paul in his letter to the Romans. Paul is so urgently excited to see Christ in the world and in the people around him, he actually urges the Roman Christians…to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” He wants us to wear Christ like a special garment or, as Paul says, to “put on armour of light.” This can sounds like an odd and sometimes even troubling image, for us modern peoples.
In society, we both value our individuality and at the same time our society tends to reward conformity, blending in. Basically, be yourself, but goodness gracious, don’t be too different, too unconventional or it can be a problem. And so the idea of “putting on Christ” makes us uncomfortable, either because it feels like Paul asks us to give up too much of our individual uniqueness… or that Paul asks us to wear our hearts on our sleeves in ways that might make us stand out a little too much for comfort.
It’s hard to miss a armour of light in a crowd. For ancient peoples, however, so much about how people dressed informed you about who they were. How people dressed in the ancient world could tell you what a person’s religious beliefs were, it could tell you where they were from, who they were related to, what they did for a living, how old they were… You could size people up pretty quickly based on what they were wearing. There was no getting away from sharing all this information about yourself, how you dressed reflected who you were. You were in fact always, wearing your heart, the details of your life and lifestyle, on your sleeve. This degree of categorization based on dress doesn’t have many modern day connections, except perhaps for certain uniforms. But even to this day, we dress up for certain people, places, or events. We wear nice clothes to a wedding or to church. We wear different clothes to work than we would for a day at the beach. We can still tell something about people, even in a broad spectrum, based on what they wear. diamond wedding collections with beading
What if we wore Christ like we did our clothes? What if, simply by looking at us, people could tell we are people of faith? That we believe in Christ so strongly, so urgently, we wear our faith in the world so people can see it, can see and know what we believe. Put even more strongly, what if we wore Christ so much on our sleeves, that to look at us, was almost like looking at Christ. We will do Christ’s work; have Christ’s heart and Christ’s hands and feet in this world. Would this not be a way of living out with excitement and urgency the life of faith until Christ comes again? With our help, God is helping to bring about a new kingdom and a new earth right now, not just when he comes again.
In fact, Isaiah, Son of Amoz, gets a glimpse of this kingdom of God. Isaiah sees a word from God about what God’s kingdom is like:
“God shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The coming of God into the world does not result in fear and devastation. It is, in fact, the coming of God into the world, God’s judgment of the nations that allows for peace and justice for all people.
It’s not something to be afraid of; it is something to look forward to and to work toward with all our hearts and minds.
There is a powerful sadness to these words from Isaiah, even as the nations of the world negotiate and navigate terrible conflicts, at home and abroad we still have not held out and worked towards Gods vision of peace and prosperity of God’s people. Psalm 122 gives voice to this vision of peace and prosperity today:
“Peace be within your walls, and quietness within your towers. For my brothers and companions sake, I pray for your prosperity. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do you good.”
This is what we, as people of faith, are working for. That’s why we are so urgently excited for Christ’s coming. And that’s why we wear Christ on our sleeves, why we put on Christ, put on an armour of light, so all people might see and know God’s peace.