You are not your clothes
Saturday, Feb 1, 2014
By Mike Spinelli
I don’t often remember words spoken at a graduation, even my own. In order for me to remember, the words have to be special. Like those of the valedictorian at a friend’s high school graduation who began and ended her speech with a revised quote from a popular movie: “You are not your job; you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are so not your khakis.”
What makes these words extraordinary after all these years is that they remind me that what I have does not define or classify me. How often do we define ourselves by what we have in the bank or the garage? Even if we eschew possessions, our hard work or even just the title of our job becomes a major identifier. And how many of us accept the notion that the clothes do make the man or the woman?
Okay, maybe you don’t need these things to define you. But do other things identify you—family, service to God or even striving for Christ-like character?
The apostle Paul devoted many words to how we should live as imitators of Christ. In Colossians 3:12-14 we find a list of characteristics that Paul imagines as clothing, something we should put on and wear. They are wonderful character values that reflect Christ’s nature—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.
Yet it is not these attributes that caught my attention during a men’s retreat a couple of years back. I could have read the whole passage, soaking in the “to do” list Paul is presenting. But it was the words with which Paul launches his list that made me link, continued
P.S .Here's the movie scene he quoted. It's from Fight Club (profanity alert)
Mike's article reminded me of the truth that I might now call "You are not your armor." Christians have made (too?) much of the spiritual armor Paul describes in Ephesians 6: the shield of faith, etc. But the armor is so exciting and attention-getting that we often focus more on the ("mundane") individual pieces than what they represent; focusing more on the sign than the sign-ified. It might help to translate "take up faith like a shield..." instead of "take up the shield of faith." I love how Eugene Peterson solves this in The Message Bible. Strikingly, for most of the items of armor, he doesn't even mention the item at all, drawing attention back to to what are actually supposed to be/do:
Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open
And don't get me started on an even more fundamental problem with the way we read Ephesians.
No..don't even read this link!
Okay, you didn't click, so I'll repost that article below: