The Clothes of Character

Not too long ago, a college woman stopped my daughter in the restroom at the student center on her university campus to question her about her clothing. Abby was dressed head to toe in usual.

No, Abby doesn't dress in a goth style, nor is she typically so plain in her dress. In fact, Abby has a real flair for putting together unusual colors and styles in a unique Abby-way. But because Abby is a theatre performance major, she is required to dress completely in black when she attends any of her theatre classes. So she wears black for a least a portion of every day and some days she dons nothing but black all day long.

This weekend when Abigail returned home for a rare long weekend at home, I did her laundry. Here's the result:

On the particular day when the young woman inquired about her all-black clothing, she wanted to know why Abigail was wearing solid black on such a scorching Arizona day. Abby answered her as best she could, explaining that theatre students were required to wear all black for various reasons.

  1. It helps them better see their bodies and faces in the mirrors on the walls of their movement class, so they can work on movement more accurately.
  2. It keeps them from depending on their clothing to communicate, and forces them to use their bodies, voices, and facial expressions. 
  3. It cuts down on distractions in the class.
  4. Bottom line, it's the mandate of their professors.
But nothing satisfied the young woman. She gave Abigail another look-over and snarled, expressing her disdain for all things black and Abigail's choice to wear such. Oh well.

As I was folding Abigail's black socks, pants, shirts, sports bras and sweaters, I thought about her choice to wear the clothing of the theatre from head to toe out of her commitment to the program. I've never known Abigail to choose an all-black outfit, other than maybe a classic little black dress with black heels and black accessories, carefully chosen for affect. Otherwise, Abby always opts for other shades.

But out of her commitment to her calling, Abby has chosen to wear the appropriate clothing without complaint. Each morning, on a campus where others are dressing as they please, Abby gladly dons the apparel of her calling and wears it with panache. 

That makes me think. As Christ followers, we have also been asked to clothe ourselves differently from others. And while our clothes may not be as immediately visible to the eyes, once our apparel is noticed, we too can receive stares of skepticism, disdain, and confusion.
  1. Christ has, at great expense, clothed us in His righteousness. Like Isaiah we should rejoice because "He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness..." (Isiah 61:10)
  2. We are told to clothe ourselves with humility among a generation that consistently clothes itself with boldness and arrogance. (1 Peter 5:5)
  3. When we receive the Holy Spirit in salvation, we are "clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)
  4. When we are baptized following salvation, we are clothing ourselves with Christ according to Galatians 3:27, and in so doing we are identifying ourselves as Christ followers, just as Abby's black identifies her as a theatre student.
  5. In Ephesians 6:11-17 we are instructed to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand strong against the wiles of the enemy, fighting as a good and strong soldier in the army of God.
  6. And finally, one day we will all stand before the throne of God, representing every nation, tongue, and people group, but no longer wearing the clothing of our generations or cultures. Instead we will be wearing the same and glorious white robes of holiness.
Dressing distinctly may draw a few stares, even when our clothing is spiritual in nature rather than fabric. We will look different, act differently, be different. Some people may not understand our choice to wear holiness and righteousness when they are modeling the attitudes and behaviors and words of this world instead. But we have a choice. Will we wear the "clothes of character" or be disqualified from the course? 

What are you wearing today?

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