Monday, February 1, 2010

The overcoat

While sitting in line at my local coffee stand of choice (and by that I mean, the drive-up window of Starbucks, because, after all, didn't Starbucks start in Seattle?  And doesn't that make it local to me?  And why in the world am I trying to justify this paranthetical thought, anyway?), my baby brother called.  I'd just sent him a text about finally having mailed his t-shirt quilt to him, so how was he to know I was involved in something important--like trying to order a vanilla latte? What came out of my mouth, for no apparent reason, was, "Cinnamon dolce latte, please!" just because I was reading it on the board while trying to talk to BB on the phone.  Just goes to show you I should never try to do two things at once.  Fortunately, I don't completely hate cinnamon dolce lattes.  Don't love them either, but what was I to do?  I didn't take a swallow of it until I'd driven over to a Drug Store parking lot and turned off the car.  Oh well.

I did have a good conversation with BB, though.  Something he said made me think of a conversation I'd had with a friend in WSU's Holland Library back when I was a sophomore in college.  Yes, for some unknown reason, I really am able to reproduce whole conversations from my past, complete with the exact location where the conversation took place, what the other person was doing, and in some instances what we each were wearing.  For instance, I can tell you exactly where we were the day my former campaigner leader told me she was pregnant with her second child (on the mall, just down from the CUB--student union building at WSU). And I can tell you about a chance meeting with the boy who would be the Beve outside of the Bookie on that same campus one Christmas break more than 4 years before we walked down the aisle together, having pledged our lives to each other 'for as long as we both shall live'.  Why I remember such things I don't know, but they're filed carefully away.

So this friend and I (a boy who was named Mark, but went by the name of Wetzel, for some unknown reason) were talking about the verses in scripture that say, "Put on Christ" or "Put on these things [attribute of Christ]". We talked about how putting on Christ was something like putting on an overcoat--a special, super-powered overcoat (of many colors?!) which we put on no matter what the weather or how we're feeling.  We put it/ Him on, and somehow, by the power of that coat, we are changed beneath it, until those characteristics (identified in Colossians 3, starting in verse 12) actually become a part of us.  We put on Christ (Romans 13:14), and who He is becomes how we act toward others.

Yes, in the beginning of this kind of dressing, we might feel inauthentic, like such actions, responses, feelings--clothing--are not really ours.  But acting more Christ-like, dressing more Christ-like, creates authenticity within us.  We are changed by it. Changed from the inside out as we put Him on.  This is because the action we take participates with the action of the Holy Spirit on the inside, until it's all of a piece.

This was the sum of my conversation on the second floor of Holland Library back in the spring of 1977, and also the sum of my conversation with BB this afternoon in the Rite Aid parking lot, my cinnamon dolce latte growing cool beside me.  As true today as it was 33 years ago.  Something I need to be reminded of.  My actions, my responses to others really indicate whether I am wearing Christ.  No matter what I feel, no matter what I think I deserve, I can choose to wear Him, to act and speak and live as His.  And the so doing will bring about the change I pray for. 

I was sharing this with BB, but I have to admit, it was as important for me to hear as for him.  Maybe more so.  "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience...And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity." Colossians 3: 12, 14.  Hmmm, sounds like love is the thread, doesn't it?  Without it, there is no garment.  Love.  No matter what, put on love, which is the same (1 John 4: 8 says) as "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 13:14

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