Suggestion: Change Your Wardrobe

Blind Faith (No. 39, 2014)
Weekly Devotional for October 16, 2014
Suggestion: Change Your Wardrobe

Sometimes a subtle suggestion can prompt significant transformation. When we
see or hear what other people are doing or wearing or eating, often we
become interested in adopting their look or behavior – and maybe even their
faith.

Fall wardrobe changing season causes me to reflect on an autumn
and early winter spent in close contact with clothing items not as familiar
to southerners as shorts, t-shirts, and other light weight garments. I
worked in the men’s section of a well-respected department store the Fall
after I graduated from college. Long sleeves and heavier fabrics had
thoroughly supplanted bright, summery clothes. As with most Fall seasons in
Alabama, warm weather persisted and sales of wintery wear were sluggish. One
prominent rack of very traditional plaid flannel shirts – shades of brown,
muted green and blue, gray and black – appeared untouched for days at the
time. Nearby was a table stacked with soft turtleneck knit shirts in various
colors – also apparently undisturbed by shoppers. Neither seemed to appeal
to customers still concerned with remaining cool on warm afternoons. One
Saturday afternoon I was working during a home Bama game day. The store was
nearly empty, so the manager was looking for tasks to keep clerks busy. He
asked me to find something to put on a man’s upper torso manikin that had
stood uncharacteristically naked atop a display rack for a couple of days. I
am not now, nor was I then, a fashionista, but I do know what clothes look
good together! I dressed the manikin in one of the turtleneck shirts, then
topped it with a flannel shirt and set the display on the rack where the
flannel shirts were hanging. My schedule did not return me to the sales
floor for several days, but when I came back about half of the flannel
shirts and most of the turtlenecks had sold! The manager explained that
girlfriends looking for Christmas presents and grandmothers buying for their
grandsons were taken with the look. Many had been boxed with a turtleneck
folded and slipped into a flannel shirt that had the collar open like the
manikin. The subtle suggestion of the wardrobe combination spurred sales of
the shirts – my crowning achievement in men’s retail merchandising!

As sultry days fade away and cool breezes gain chilly
prominence, wardrobe changes become the order of the day. Most of us look
around to see what other people are wearing for the season. As much as we
might like our sandals, shorts, and polos, we may take note of the fresh
appearance people we respect are presenting with their new wardrobes that
are appropriate for this time of year. The subtle suggestions garnered from
their changed fashions can prompt a transformation in what we wear.

People in the first century were concerned about wearing the
right clothes, as we are today. Jesus appealed to the fashion concerns of
his audience to assure them that God knows very well what we need to wear
and has already provided us with a resplendent wardrobe. (See Matthew
6:28-33.) What we may need are some suggestions for how we can pull the
clothing God provides together. Once we are arrayed in God’s fashions,
perhaps we can then offer those suggestions to others by the way we live and
move in our new clothes and they may be prompted to change their wardrobes,
too.

Paul used the fashion metaphor repeatedly to convey the
substantial difference between the ragged qualities of life “worn” by
unbelievers and the transformed “wardrobe” followers of Jesus are to wear.
The essence of the new wardrobe is nothing less than the nature of Christ,
himself. Paul’s fashion summary is challenging, but offers gorgeous hope:
“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.” (Galatians 3:26-27 MSG) Paul
catalogs items that become far too comfortable for most people – foul
language, telling lies, lusty living, gluttony, meanness, etc. – and insists
that these must be left behind. A whole new wardrobe designed by God awaits
all who will receive it! Paul also explains what that looks like: “You’re
done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes
you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new
wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator,
with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. 12-14 So,
chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked
out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be
even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.
Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless
of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.
Never be without it.” (Colossians 3:9b-14 MSG) But accepting God’s new
fashions for life is not something to get around to just some day in the
future. It is a transformation that should begin with urgency, today: “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!” (Romans
13:14b MSG
) If followers of Jesus consistently model the new qualities God has
designed for us, perhaps others will observe how well the wardrobe fits and
will seek it for themselves by faith in our divine clothier.

As you change out the clothes in your closet and drawers, think
about what prompted you to wear those clothes in the first place. Whose
wardrobe suggestions do you habitually follow? Who takes subtle suggestions
of what to wear from observing you? Can you make the metaphorical step into
evaluation of your living wardrobe to confirm that you are splendidly
clothed with the love of Christ and that it is obvious to others? A subtle -
or not so subtle – suggestion can prompt a significant transformation in
yourself and for others.

- J. Edward Culpepper