The title of this post comes from Ephesians 4:17-24, specifically Ephesians 4:22-24. For those of us who are in Christ, Paul says there is a putting off of the old and a putting on of the new. He uses imagery of taking off old clothes and putting on new clothing to refer to a work that continues to take place in each of our lives. Of course, this work is impossible without Christ, and is only possible through him. But, it is still something that we must choose to do.
Randi from “Seeds in my Heart” has written a very good post called “Putting off… putting on.” Her post is a reflection on a series that I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the topic of love. But, as usual, Randi takes a general topic and makes it extremely personal.
As she works through this idea of “putting off,” she wonders about being fake. I think this is a really good thing for us to think about, and I love her thought process in this post.
But, at one point, she ties this process (which seems to be a personal process at face value) back to our community in Christ:
This is why safe places of close intimate relationships are so important and so powerful. We seem fake to each other… because we are only seeing the putting on!! We seem fake to each other because a) sometimes we are being fake because we are not putting off…. or…. b) we are distant from each other so we don’t see the whole process! We only see the putting on.
When we see the whole process that God is doing… when we see the wrestling and the taking off and confessing and turning —- then we will see the whole process and God’s transforming work.
We also have to desire to show each other so much more than just the realness of our old self. We have to encourage each other to allow Him to clothe us. To encourage each other with truths like we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 2:3) in Christ.
This is so true. Both the “putting off” and the “putting on” are community processes. But, we must be honest with ourselves and one another in order for this to be so. If we can’t be honest about what we’re putting off, we’re not really being honest about what we’re putting on. Plus, others need to see both our “putting off” and our “putting on.”
(By the way, one of the reasons that most people feel isolated among the church is that they don’t know that others have problems, too. They only know about their own issues..)
Last weekend, when we were gathered with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, someone asked about struggling with being loving. Several people shared suggestions, scripture passages, advice, etc. I decided to share an example from the week before in which I did not reply to a situation in a loving manner. I still had something to “put off.”
I’m not proud of the way that I responded to that situation. I wish that I had responded in a loving manner. But, I’m willing to share the truth about myself with my brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s only when they see what I still need to “put off” that they will see the work of God as I continue to “put on” the new man in Jesus Christ.