I am not very good at dressing myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I know how to button up my shirt, how to put on my pants, socks, shoes and the like. I can do all the things that I need to in order to get dressed. What I have a hard time doing is knowing what to get dressed in. Mixing and matching colors, what style is right for what event, and (egads!), what is “appropriate” for the time of year… all such things are well beyond me. I need help! Usually, you can tell when Kelly is away when you see me dressed all wrong.
In the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22, Jesus describes the importance of dressing appropriately. Of course, as a parable, Jesus is speaking not of an actual wedding banquet; but of the Kingdom of God. His point is that entrance and participation in the Kingdom involves being a certain kind of person. Participating in the Kingdom and being the wrong person will result, like the poorly dressed man at the wedding banquet, in being thrown out of the King’s presence. So, being “dressed appropriately”, being the right person, is so important in our Christian life.
Realizing this, the call for purity and holiness can often put people on the wrong path—a path that leads to self-effort, self-reliance, and self-justification. But that is never, never the Gospel path. The Gospel recognizes both the importance, yes, even the necessity, of being the right person, AND our inability to be that person. The Gospel proclaims that we are dressed all wrong, and that we desperately need the right clothing; but that nothing in our efforts can attain that clothing. Rather, we remain, despite all our best efforts, impure and unholy in God’s sight. But that is exactly how and why Christianity stands out among all other human ventures as the one, the only way to experience God—because it is God Himself who gives us His holiness as our own.
Imagine, if you will, being stripped of all your sin and evil. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But where would that leave us? Many think that having all our sin removed would leave us pure and clean in God’s eyes. But, no. Once all our sin is removed, we are… well, we are empty, without, void, yes—we are naked. Not only do we need our sin removed, we need an infusion of goodness. We need holiness. We need to be clothed.
And, that is the Gospel! Not just that God, in His compassion and grace, removes our dirty rags; but that He then clothes us in His own righteousness in Christ! He takes our sin and gives us His holiness. These two aspects of our faith work together—not only is our sin removed; but we are given all that makes us righteous in God’s sight. And where does our sin go? To Christ! And where does our holiness come from? From Christ! In salvation, through faith, by the work of the Spirit, we trade our sin for His godliness.
Theologically, we call this the blessed exchange: that we are blessed by exchanging our unholiness for His holiness, our sin for His righteousness, our unworthiness for His godliness, our death for His life.
This is God’s Gospel, His good news for you and for me. Have you embraced it in all its fullness? Don’t wait another minute to be dressed in the heavenly robes of righteousness in Christ our Lord.
As you prepare for worship this week, check out 2 Kings 4:18-37.
1. Remind yourself of the story in the immediately preceding verses. Why is the son so important to the woman? Obviously, there is the deep emotional and familial tie, but… more?
2. Why do you think the woman does not tell her husband of the child’s death (vs. 23)?
3. What is the role of this room the woman built for Elisha? Why is it important here?
4. Why does the woman not share with Gehazi what is wrong (vs. 26)? Why does she not verbalize what is wrong to Elisha?
5. The woman clings to Elisha’s feet, and Gehazi moves to push her away. Besides just protecting his master, why does Gehazi react like that?
6. What do you think Elisha hoped for when he sent Gehazi on ahead with his staff?
7. In verse 34, Elisha is described as stretching himself out upon the boy. Why is this described in such detail?