Written by Vicky Ng, Art by Christine Hwang
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4: 22-24)
When I was young, owning a new pair of shoes was a luxury that my family could only afford when our old pair wore out. I used to dream of owning a pair of shoes like Shirley Temple’s. It would have shiny leather and a bow on top and a color that matched the stockings that she wore under her short dancing skirt, but my mom knew that such shoes were not practical for everyday use. So I always ended up with a new pair of shoes that looked exactly like the old one: dull and plain, a pair of shoes that would go well with almost every outfit (except perhaps a wedding banquet). Although to be honest, I never really wanted new shoes. The old one was more comfortable; it took after the shape of my feet. It did not draw attention away from me when I put my feet into them. It fit like another layer of skin. But when the rain seeped into my shoes through the large crack in the sole, it was time for a new pair no matter how unwilling I was.
Why are we so resistant to wearing new shoes? Even though our foot is segmented into 26 bones, making it pliable and adaptable to the uneven ground, the shape of our foot is not that malleable. The binding and restraint exerted by our shoes cause all kinds of discomfort and Â friction: the pinching of our toes, lack of ventilation, limited circulation, etc. No wonder people pay a costly price for custom-made shoes!
Likewise, being a new creation in Christ is like putting on a new pair of shoes, or a “Robe of Righteousness” as described in the Bible (Isaiah 61:10). Our old shoes or old robe, are our old habits, attitudes and thoughts. Despite the shame and guilt that it brings us, we like our old lifestyle, because it doesnâ€™t require much effort and discipline. Just like that old pair of shoes, our old lives are comfortable and do not demand any change from us. God wants to give us a new robe, one that would be acceptable at the heavenly wedding banquet. In fact, if we attend the banquet without putting on this Robe of Righteousness, we would be denied entry and thrown out (Matthew 22:11-13). The robe is earned by Christâ€™s blood and can only be worn by our submission to Him as our Savior. Itâ€™s a robe given to us for free because we cannot afford the price. But oftentimes, we do not value it and forget its presence. With the new robe on, we need to act differently, with a new type of behavior and conduct, worthy of a member of His family.
Could you imagine stepping into the heavenly banquet feeling uncomfortable in that new robe? As if everyoneâ€™s eyes were on us and knew that we had put on this new robe minutes ago. The new robe does more than grant us entry into Godâ€™s future banquet in heaven, it provides us a new superpower at this very moment on earth. First, it changes our status. We are no longer slaves, serving the evil one who has a temporary rule over the present world. We are Godâ€™s Children, the priest, His Holy People, the heavenly citizens, walking here to carry His Lights for others to see, to help the lost one to make peace with the Father. Itâ€™s an entire new mission and a new set of rules we play by. The new robe gives us this new identity, new access to Godâ€™s throne and thus His guidance and power, peace and protection. The more time we spend wearing and getting accommodated to this new robe, appreciating and learning about its details and functions, the more at ease we will be in it.
Godâ€™s new robe demands change from us. It does not accommodate to our shape, but demands our accommodation. In other words, our spirits are meant to take after the shape of the new gown, the character of Christ. The best way to wear it is to take off our old gown. You cannot be changed if you have two layers of robes on! Just like the shoes, you cannot fit your old shoes into the new one, you simply have to take off the old pair before you wear the new one. If you get rid of the older one and commit yourself to the new one, the discomfort from the new robe is going to serve as a reminder that you are a new creation in Christ, and have been called to be His ambassador. Are you willing to be clothed anew?