Gleanings from the Daily Office – Just Can’t Seem to Throw it Out

This past weekend I was part of wedding in Atlanta. It was a great honor and joy to play a small part in such a big day. The groom is a dear friend that I’ve watched mature from a reasonably responsible boy into a steady mature and believing man. He is now a naval officer and flies P3s. Quite proud of him and I rejoice in his choice of a mate for life. She is a committed believer and beautiful, inside and out

A side benefit was the reunion with some dear friends (fellow laborers) who have influenced me tremendously and whom I have been blessed likewise to lead and influence. As we gathered I realized I had on a favorite sweatshirt that was purchased about the time I came to know these folks, some 15 years ago. My favorite sweatshirt is 15 years old. It is frayed at the cuffs. It is probably out of style, not that I would know or care.

The sweatshirt is old. But I love it. It is incredibly soft. It is incredibly warm. It also bears the name of my alma mater, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the place where I reached the pinnacle of my education. For a variety of reasons, I am unwilling to throw it out, give it up.

And so it is with us spiritually. Put off Paul says in Colossians. Put off Paul says in Ephesians (5:26-32). We are far too often wearing old garments we are meant to remove and discard. But sometimes the old garments are soft and, therefore, comfortable. Sometimes the old garments remind us of glory days gone by a far cry better than the times in which we find ourselves presently and, therefore, comforting. So we keep on wearing them.

What are these old garments? First, the t-shirt of falsehood. This means every form of deceit. It is every form of communication that is meant to mislead. Not every deception is an outright lie. Offering up part of the truth misleads as well. Sometimes we create a façade or schtick. They easily mislead. But it is a comfortable way of doing business. It holds challenge at bay. We are reluctant to give up the cover and comfort of the familiar attire.

Second, the sweater of anger. Be angry if you can’t help it Paul says but don’t let the sun go down with your anger unresolved. Don’t nourish that frustration. Don’t enlist others in your rage however justified it is. I wear this garment occasionally. I observe the sweater on others quite often. Quite an amazing garment to be found on a mature Christian when with blaspheming the Holy Spirit un-forgiveness is seemingly one of two unforgivable sins.

Third, the turtleneck of theft as in being paid for something you didn’t do. Fourth, is the pant of corrupting language as in that which destroys/breaks down. Fifth is the belt of grieving the Holy Spirit as in denying the power of the Spirit within one to fight evil and transform hearts. Sixth, is the all enveloping footy pajamas or coveralls of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. Who doesn’t own a pair of those?

Oh so many comfortable clothes from which to choose, aging garments still donned by new people. We are meant to give them up. God will enable us take them off and stand naked ready for new clothes but only if we will submit to the transforming (sanctifying) work of the Holy Spirit. The work is achieved only if we are willing to give up that which is familiar, comfortable, and comforting. We must be willing to take it off and throw it out.

What’s in your closet?

What are you wearing now?

7 Responses to “Gleanings from the Daily Office – Just Can’t Seem to Throw it Out”

  • Hal Jones Says:

    I just spent a pleasant lunch hour reading your posts. I especially enjoyed reading about the clothes. Years ago there was a fellow named Clarence Jordan. Clarence lived down in southern Georgia. While going through the turbulent era of civil rights, he penned the Cotton Patch Gospels. The CPG was his way of communicating God’s Word to those around him, but struggled with the more formal KJV. I admired Clarence, but never met him. His wife, Florence walked me around their property one afternoon and spoke to me of the fires that the CPG were born from. I will never forget that experience. Reading your missive I thought about that afternoon. The words that Clarence wrote were comfortable to those receiving them. They were familiar colloquialisms. The message those words carried of God’s love being inclusive, was anything but comfortable.
    The KJV is old and comfortable for me. I like it. It is comfortable. But in college, I knew we would never be allowed to use it as one of our sources. It is my sweatshirt. Its words flow like poetry and they soothe my soul. But you know what, I need that sweatshirt sometimes. So here is too old sweatshirts and well-worn shoes. We can’t wear them often, but admit it, they tell a lot about who we are.
    Hal Jones

  • John Richardson Says:

    Welcome to Ancient Future Church Hal. Blessed by your visit and your willingness to comment. I hear uncomfortable truth need not be communicated in uncomfortable ways. If that is what you meant, to that I say amen, at least not all the time (every so often i do think we do need to scream “you jackwagon”). I also hear the gospel of inclusivity always offends someone. To that I say “true that” without exception.

  • Victor Sung Says:

    I love this (though I am also incredibly convicted by it). I think about how we are to put on the full armor of God, but really, in order to do so, we really should remove our many articles of tattered old clothing first. Otherwise the armor won’t fit right. To take the analogy even further, we do massive closet cleaning at the end of each year to make donations (end of the year to get it in for tax documentation purposes), but we also need to clean out the closet of our hearts.

    I love the subtleties you point out – that falsehood has more subtle forms than just bold-faced lying, that theft has more subtle forms than just armed robbery. Guilty as charged, brother. Time to gather up another pile for donations.

  • John Richardson Says:

    Guilty? At least we stand together. Instead of giving to Goodwill we are giving away to get Good Will, rightly ordered thinking, affections and emotions.

    Stream of consciousness I know but I have always loved the movie and its title, Good Will Hunting. The title can be heard and understood in a variety of ways. Most creative!

  • Dave Matlak Says:

    How about the underpants of fear!

    That typically seems to be the under-layer of so much of my sin. Fear of not being good enough, fear of not being responsible enough, fear of appearing weak, fear of being misunderstood, fear of not being able to care for my family . . . fear, fear, fear . . .

    operating out of fear leads to selfishness, self-protection, self-preservation, self-soothing, self-loathing, an ever growing focus on myself . . .

    John, you wrote:
    “We are meant to give them up. God will enable us take them off and stand naked ready for new clothes but only if we will submit to the transforming (sanctifying) work of the Holy Spirit.”

    Its can be easy to get down to our undies, sometimes it’s the last layer that is the hardest to come off.

    sorry if I stretched the metaphor a bit to far : )

  • Richard Dunlap Says:

    I have a sweatshrit exactly like that, though the name of my alma mater emblazoned on the front does not represent such a high academic accomplishment.

    Your horribly indicting post made me think of my closet. It needs to be cleaned out. There are many clothes in there that need to be donated to others.

    The spiritual clothes that you mention are just not that easy to get rid of. It seems that sweater of anger is a lot easier to take off than to keep off.

  • John Richardson Says:

    Incredibly convicted, self-loathing, horribly indicting post – Say what? Love the honesty and the hyperbole. You are every man. I am every man. Welcome to the club.

    Find some consolation in being self-aware. Many are sweating to death beneath layers of aging garments all the while thinking they are on the cutting edge of fashion trends.

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