ever feel like you are underdressed for an occasion? you show up for a party in jeans and a sweater and everyone else is dressed up? imagine that the President invites you to the White House for a dinner party… would you show up in jeans? of course not. You would be embarrased if you were so drastically underdressed and i’m sure you’d feel very out of place.
growing up for the first 20 years of my life in mostly fundamentalist churches, I often heard something like this as an encouragement to wear your best clothes to church on Sunday… to dress up when you come into the presence of the King to show reverence and respect.
but the reality is, God looks much deeper than the outward appearance and examines what is truly at the heart level. I am not saying it is wrong to wear nice clothes to church, but personally, I am not of the conviction that God is impressed by my pantyhose and knee-length skirt. He is impressed by a heart of humility that seeks to serve his Body and worship Him for His holiness.
but all too often I am tempted to think that because God looks on the heart, I am in trouble. that He knows my sin and I often feel ashamed to stand before the King with prison clothes on my heart. Aware of His holiness, my sin can feel so condemning and overwhelming.
I’m so grateful for times when God reminds me that this simply is not true. That Jesus died not only to save me from hell, but to release the chains that are around my heart that is so prone to sin. I am not captive to those sins anymore. Those prison clothes are not what defines my heart. My heart has been changed and is now ruled by Jesus Christ.
but it often doesn’t feel like that does it? condemnation. shame. regret. fear. those things can often overcloud the 3 words so precious to me: “it is finished.” as Martin Lloyd Jones stated in his book Spiritual Depression, its exactly at those times that I need to stop listening to myself and start talking to myself… to start talking truth from God’s Word.
Several years ago, I read through the Bible in 3 months. There were a few passages that jumped out to me at that time. One was the first five verses of Zechariah 3…
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
I shared this passage in Care Group Friday night along with an impression that God wanted to encourage those in the group that struggle with this very thought… with the thought of standing before God in our prison rags… that He wants to remind us that through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are accepted… our clothes are changed, our chains are gone and we are invited in as a child of God as a result of His amazing grace.
Yesterday at church, it was encouraging to see the Holy Spirit move. Someone came up during worship and shared the exact same passage… Zechariah 3:1-5 and the exact same encouragement to the body of Christ. It edified my heart to see God working in various means to build up and refresh his church. And from such an “obscure” passage…
After care group on Friday, someone shared with me another passage along the same lines… 2 Kings 25:29:
So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table.
I think this accurately displayes who we are in Christ. I pray that God encourages each of you who know Him with the hope found in the truth that we were… “once your enemy, now seated at your table.” Jesus, thank you.