Dressing Up

Rather clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, 

and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  

Romans 13:14

Aahhhrrrgh! (Pronounced: MAD!)

The boys’ bikes were sprawled across the front sidewalk AGAIN. Three times in 30 minutes, we’d gone over bike parking protocol. But here they were AGAIN; obstacles to the front door during the birthday bash.

But, just as the words migrated from thought to tongue, I GOT DRESSED.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still in the fuchsia top and green skirt I wore to church. I mean- really dressed up:  I held my peace. It felt weird and unnatural, it did: putting off sword thrust words and putting on peace. A lot like the restrictive, itchy feeling I get when I let Jim get the last word in matrimonial tiff.

Fake it ’til you make it, my sister-in-law says.

Act like success you’ll be. Play the part. Pretend like it fits.

We stood, saluting our veterans at the Memorial Day parade this morning. Some carried flags, others shuffled along barely keeping step. Most rode in shiny convertibles. All were in uniform. 
I bet each one remembers the first time he dressed in his Army green or Dress white.  And I bet the uniforms felt stiff and uncomfortable at first. They were dressing up. 
C. S. Lewis wrote Mere Christianity in 1943. It contains one of the best descriptions of Christian growth penned since Paul:

Whatever else you say, you will probably say the Lord’s prayer.  Its very first words are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean?  They mean, quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God.  To but it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending…In a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.

Why? What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending.  The bad kind, where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing.  

When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are.  And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were.

Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important.  They are always pretending to be grown-ups-playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits, so that the pretense of being grown-up helps them grow up in earnest.

Now, the moment you realize, “Here I am, dressing up as Christ,” it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretense could be made less of a pretense and more of a reality…Well, go and do it.

You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and is already at that moment beginning to turn your pretense into a reality.  

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 160-162 

It almost hurts; this putting on Christ, or maybe it’s the putting off the old self that’s so uncomfortable. Eustace was in pain when Aslan peeled away his dragon skin.

I dress up when I refrain from anger and turn from wrath. The clothes are stiff and itchy. Still, I act the part. I pretend to be adorned with a gentle, quiet spirit. 

And instead of an 80 dB

Boys, get over HEEERE this instant!  

 the dressed-up me, calmly calls, at maybe 40 dB:

Boys, would you please come help me move your bikes?

Pretense becoming reality. Faking it ’til we’re remade. In all things growing up into Christ.

Instead, speaking the truth in love we will in all things grow up 

into Him who is the head, that is, Christ. 

Ephesians 4:15

Justin Taylor offers a good, quick summary of the NT language of putting on and putting off.