The Emperor’s New Clothes,
Or the Lord’s?
† In Jesus Name †
As you walk through this life, knowing Jesus walks beside you, may you be transformed evermore into His likeness
Our reading today that I will focus on was the first reading – it is there reprinted on the screen in the Bible translation that I used at home.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
One of my favorite writers about ministry in the church is often confused as a children’s writer. His name was Hans Christian Anderson, and if you haven’t heard of him, you might have heard of His stories. In fact, I am writing a book using one of his stories as the skeleton right now – about how to help broken churches that aren’t what they were once. It’s called “Stone Soup Ministry”
But back to today – Hans tells a story about a emperor – who is bored with his usual fancy clothes, and tells all the tailors and fashion designers to come up with something new or they will be sent to his dungeons. To make the fable a bit shorter – one proposes something so spectacular – so amazing – that will make the King look so good – that only super smart people will be able to see it.
The King, a very proud man, falls for the trick and is afraid to announce that He can’t see them himself. Soon he is going about completely naked, convinced that he is wearing top not clothing! Others, wanting to prove they are just that smart – just that sophisticated – do the very same thing!
Soon all the “right people” are walking about naked, as they buy the clothes from this con artist as well. They had to fit in, had to keep up appearances… until
Along came the town pastor – a simple brilliant man who cared more for his people than he did the personal harm that can come from pointing out people’s nakedness… and as people heard and believed they were again clothed with the real clothes…
To Do With Us?
You might be thinking – what is the crazy American pastor talking about – how does this have to do with the church? And as I’ve preached in a lot of places – from Shenzhen China to the Los Angeles Jail system to my nice safe church in Cerritos, I would say it has to do with us far more than we think!
Many of us, most of us, don’t dress physically in the emperor’s new clothes, but we do spiritually. We take in the latest fad in Christianity, we learn all the right phrases, we learn how to act like strong believers in the army of God.
Except that we are hiding from God, and sometimes from our pastors and church leaders, who can sometime hide from each other. You might be saying,
But pastor, you really don’t know us yet, we are very spiritually mature, we know our scripture, we have everything under control here! We listen to our pastor’s every word – and run to him when we need help.
Rather than argue, I’ll ask what Paul mentioned… have you put on:
Do you exhibit these things, as we say in the states – 24/7/365?
I tend to be blunt – so I ask, are we, and I include us pastors in this as well – wearing the Emperor’s Spiritual Clothes?
Don’t worry – you don’t have to ask if everyone else knows, or if I told Pastor about which sins I know you committed this week, it is not time to run out the door, or throw stones at me.
You see – we each get into these modes occasionally. We go through times were we are struggling with sin, and are afraid to ask for help – even from pastor’s God has given to us for this very thing! ( later see John 20, James 5 and 1 John 1 about this )
We all sinned – most of us on the way to church this morning – some of us since we’ve been here. Disagree with me? Fine – run through just the ten commandments and ask yourself if you did what it said not to do – or didn’t what God patterned you to do. Not just in action, but in thought and word!
The Gospel Begins!
So what do we do? How do we live a real Christ-like life?
Or How do we Put on the Lord’s Clothes rather than the emperor’s new clothes?
The answer is found in Christ – and in living in Him – consider these passagesGalatians 3:27 (NLT) 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes.
Were you baptized in Christ – united with Him? Learn the promises of God’s work done there! They are amazing! His promises!
Clothed with power from on high refers to the church on the day of Pentecost as God pours out His Spirit upon the 120. But that promise was extended as well to every believer that day, as the gift of the Holy Spirit was received!
There is more! Scripture over and over uses this theme of being clothed!
Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT) 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Colossians 3:10 (NLT) 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
Romans 13:14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I LOVE that last one passage, about clothing yourself in the presence of Christ. That is what will be the key to our life, the key to our being clothed, and not naked and ashamed!
Being a Christian isn’t about putting on false acts, pretending to be holy and pious. Even those words, we don’t really understand – for being holy means to be separated for a special purpose, in this case a special relationship.
I want to go back to the original verse – the one that told us we needed to be dressed in a certain way… Hear it again…
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience..
Look at the part underlined there – Since God chose YOU to be the Holy People! He called you into this wondrous relationship, this incredible blessed think we call, “abiding in Christ”! This life walking with the Spirit dwelling within us!
That is wear we find our real spiritual clothes! They don’t by our own strength or maturity, they are not found in the latest Christian fad, they are not in putting up acts!
We are made His, chosen by Him, not because of our pretty imaginary spirituality, but chosen in the midst of, as Adam and Eve were, naked and ashamed.
So you’ve been naked and ashamed – have you? Ready to admit it? Then let’s do this God’s way – one more verse…then we shall pray….