From his prison cell, Paul writes to his friends imploring them to ‘clothe’ themselves with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;’ and then to ‘put on love’ on top of all that, because love will ‘bind them all together in perfect unity.’ I think of Paul writing that letter in his prison garb–having lost the freedom to do something as simple as dress himself. I imagine this idea came to him as he wrestled with the shame and humiliation of incarceration–the Holy Spirit reminding him that even though he appeared powerless, he was still and fully empowered to live boldly as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances–nothing has the power to limit our choice to live with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. No one has the power to prevent us from clothing ourselves in love. This isn’t a sentimental, decorative, inspirational thought–this is a decree. Paul, in chains, says–this is how we fight our battles. This is our kingdom strategy.
This is the work of the church–the body of Jesus and it is how the Risen Christ is redeeming and reclaiming the world. Are you in?
We live in a culture that screams that might makes right, that violence makes peace, that money and authority and privilege determine impact. In chains, as he writes letters that will change the world, Paul testifies to otherwise.
A friend shared this thought on social media this week–inaccurate eschatology causes the church to: wait for a King who already reigns, wait for a Kingdom they’re already in, wait to become who they already are, wait for an age that’s already come, wait for a victory that’s already won, wait to do what they should already be doing.
Beloved–we already have everything we need to live as the people of God. And we have a uniform – the first step is putting it on.