–by Julia Roller
Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:9-10, 12-14
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. . . . As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Memory Verse: Colossians 3:14
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Thank you for constantly renewing us to be more like Jesus. Help us to clothe ourselves with your love so that we can forgive and love one another the way we are meant to. Please bless our home with your perfect harmony. In your Son’s name, Amen.
My kids love costumes. You name it: masks, outfits, even my husband’s and my shoes, they like to dress up and pretend to be something other than what they are. Currently, my younger son is alternately Scooby Doo or a kitty cat, and I have to remember to refer to him as such when he is in character.
So I can’t help but think of them when I read this passage about clothing ourselves in these qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and most importantly, love. Romans 13:14 puts this interesting directive even more starkly, directing us to simply “put on Christ.”
Is it just me, or is that a really weird thing to do? In Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis uses language that’s even weirder, telling us we should “dress up” as Christ, in other words, pretend we are Christ. And he emphasizes the even more surprising result: that pretending to be like Christ does in fact, make us more Christlike.
I’m always striving to be more authentic, more real, and here is this crazy, counterintuitive advice: to pretend like I’m Jesus. But I don’t believe these words are about presenting a false front to others as much as just striving to be better than we are, knowing that we can be better, that we can, in fact, be like Jesus.
The truth is that “faking it” can effect real change. Studies have shown that putting smiles on our faces actually makes us feel happier. In my life I think of those times when my three-year-old is fighting his nap and I crawl into bed with him, close my eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. It only gets him to sleep sometimes, but no matter how wide awake and heavily caffeinated I am, it always makes me feel sleepy. Often I actually drift off, only to wake to him bouncing up and down on my leg, pretending I’m a horse, or chirping, “Mommy, does the clock say it’s time to wake up yet?”
If pretending to sleep can actually make me sleepy, why should it be any different with love or compassion or humility?
These verses seem to me to be especially applicable to family life. Where else is forgiveness needed so constantly, for slights big and small? After all, it is so very hard for all of us imperfect people to live with a bunch of other imperfect people. As Henri Nouwen puts it, we need continually to forgive each other for not being God.
So we clothe ourselves with compassion, with humility, kindness, patience, meekness and love, and we find ourselves somehow, shockingly, demonstrating the love of Jesus.
- What is your favorite mask or costume?
- How do you feel when you are wearing it?
- When have you found it hard to forgive someone else in your family?
- Do you think trying to “put on Jesus” or “clothe yourself with love” could help you to be more forgiving?
Spiritual Practice: Love Masks
You will need:
- Paper plates or stiff construction paper
- Markers or crayons
- Popsicle sticks
Make masks that represent faces of love. Use the scissors to cut out eyeholes and also mouthholes if you wish from your plates or pieces of stiff paper. Then draw on or otherwise decorate your mask to represent a loving face, one you can put on when you want to be more like Jesus. Glue the popsicle sticks to the bottom of the masks when you’re done, so that you can hold your masks to your faces. Have everyone explain why they decorated their mask the way they did.