EMILY HOFFMAN

Before we put on the clothes of Christ, we must take off the old. This can be difficult because we have become comfortable in our rags—in our shame and filth-covered clothes. How do you shift your mindset to understand His new clothing is a free gift, but that it requires taking off the old and wearing the new? 

One of my favorite things about Jesus is that He is an absolute gentleman. He offers us the world on a platter—every gift we could want, only even better than we can imagine. He steps into the story clothed in so much mercy, while we stand before Him covered in rags that we pretend are cashmere. We have to make the choice to take off our torn pieces and put on His. He won't snatch them away—we have to give them up. 

I've patched together and shown off the garments I made for myself; the ones sewn together by my own logic and works and the idea that I can make life work on my own. Ultimately, these pieces fall apart because they’re not held together by something substantial—for me, they were held together by emotions, not faith.

The only way I've learned how to take off these filthy garments is by experiencing how unfulfilling they are. I love the lyrics "I've tasted and seen of the sweetest of loves. Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone." Once I first tasted a world of freedom that isn't surrounded by the shame I've always knitted around myself, I couldn't go back to that old wardrobe. 

It’s not easy; there are still areas that I have to let go of. But every time I start to give a layer to God, He swiftly clothes me in one of His beautiful garments.

Pride is usually the top garment which is hardest to take off, because it is the most difficult to understand. In what ways has Christ helped you to take off the garments of pride? Was it difficult to take off? How can we help each other remove pride without judging others?

The hardest garment of pride I had to remove was the idea that I was a "good Christian.” I grew up in the church, and for me that was a security blanket. I followed the rules, went to church, made the right choices based on my own logic, and thought that my actions were good enough. I convinced myself that it was God's job to forgive me of my sins and love me, but that I didn't need to give Him any part of myself. I was pretty self-reliant. I didn't think I needed a relationship with God, or that He would even want one with me. 

Realizing that our God is relational, that He knows me fully but wants me to know and trust Him, is what started fraying the edges of that security blanket. I realized that because I thought I was a "good enough" Christian by my own works, I was totally missing out on what it looks like to love Christ. I didn't realize that He held plans for me that were so much bigger and better than my own. In the Bible it says, "Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face!" (2 Corinthians 3:16 MSG). When this veil is lifted, we can finally see clearly the areas we need to remove. It leads to the next part of the verse, "We are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him" (2 Corinthians 3:18 MSG). When we see Christ for who He is in our lives, we can't help but itch to throw off those grimy garments that were holding us back from our true purpose—to love God and love others. 

Christ tells us in Ephesians 4:24 to 'put on your new nature.' What does this look like for you personally? Is it different for each individual? We are living in a city defined by the constant putting on of things; how is Christ's clothing different? 

Putting on a new nature in my life is a choice to see myself in Christ. It's a daily act of taking off the things that I hide behind to put on Gods greater vision for me. We live in a city where you're supposed to put on a tough act—we guard ourselves and hide away the things that make us most vulnerable. I have to get real with Him and admit that I'm broken, and ask Him to fill in those areas and cover them, to help me surrender the comforting things of my old nature that I want to cling to, like relationships and control. He immediately takes and repairs those areas—He is the master tailor. Even though it might seem a little wonky, my story and my life has been much better when I let Jesus take my all the scraps of anxiety, self-doubt, and unworthiness out of the picture to stitch together my brokenness. He turns it into a beautiful tapestry of His grace and restoring power. 

Christ gives us a new wardrobe, but we can be guilty of keeping all of our new garments in the wardrobe because we don't want to get them spoiled or dirty. It's almost like we avoid or postpone putting on His clothes because we think, ‘it's not the right time, I'll save that for a time when I really need it, I don't deserve it right now so I'll put it on when I'm good enough.’ How do you combat these thoughts?

Although we're given infinite gifts, we only have a short amount of time to put them to use. The devil's biggest lie is that "It can wait." Our dreams can wait, other people can wait, our relationship with God can wait.

This lie was made apparent to me this summer. My best friend died. His life was literally taken from him too soon. It was one of the most shocking and eye-opening things I will ever go through, and made me realize that we are here for the blink of an eye and that every moment is precious. I used to think I could wait around to get to know Jesus, that someone else would pick up the slack in my relationship with Him or the plans He has for me. But, as Levi Lusko said, “A failure to understand how powerful and extraordinary God’s plans for you are will lead to you being taken advantage of by the enemy and failing to live up to your potential.”

We only have so much time on this earth, and God is giving us every opportunity to get down and dirty in the trenches with Him. He ask us to take off the things that we hide behind. He gives us armor to protect ourselves against things the enemy throws at us, but also so that we can pull others out of the war zone. Experiencing a deep loss has showed me that God has clothed me in a robe of His joy; He has protected my inner spirit and even in the lowest times He has surrounded me in the joy of being His child. I have the privilege to release that into darkness around me. I can only do that by realizing that even in the times I see myself as most broken, God is working and is asking me to pick up the beautiful things He has for me. I don't have time to waste on holding onto things of the past. I have to let go of those old garments to move in His spirit—"I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back” (Philippians 3:12 MSG).