Get Up and Get Dressed
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
13:11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;
13:12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
13:13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.
13:14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
- Now that we have been meeting virtually—on Facebook, Zoom, and with call-in number, how many of you actually got dressed this morning for worship? You may think to yourself, why should I get all dressed up with nowhere to go.
- I encouraged those gathered by these same means yesterday for Children’s Time, that as the school year is about to unfold, still get up and get dressed for school even it is being conducted online. It will likely get you in a frame of mind that is ready for the school day and for learning. The way we dress can reflect what’s in our hearts and minds and can also impact what’s in our hearts and minds. Ex. Clothes can reflect your personal style, where you are going, and what you are expecting or wanting to do. My kids all knew not to ask me if they could wear pajamas to school on pajama day. I wanted their minds to be in school just like their bodies were! The way we dress can also be a way of showing respect to others and reflect who we expect to see.
- Apostle Paul continues to teach us as he did the early church of Rome, reinforcing key principles and concepts for living as followers of Jesus and he even addresses this matter of how we should dress.
- Point #1: Love is key. We love others as Christ has loved us. It is the least we can do. That’s what it means to owe no one anything but love—because God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten son to take on the sins of the world that we might forever be reconnected to him. That is such a tremendous gift of love, we could never repay it—other than by loving others. The debt is really to God and the way it is repaid is by loving others.
- When we love each other, we will naturally seek the well- being of others—not murdering, stealing, coveting or secretly envying what others have, or anything else that could hurt someone else. What does this look like—being concerned about the things Jesus was concerned about: feeding the hungry, healing the sick—or being concerned that others have adequate health care, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, standing up for the falsely accused and working for social justice. And doing these things even when inconvenient or challenging, going against the cultural or societally accepted norms.
- Point #2: There is urgency to this instruction. Why? Because the time is right to do the right thing. We are living in the interval of time after the sun is on the horizon, but day has not fully broken yet. Jesus came and ushered in the breaking of the dawn, the end of the night so to speak. When Jesus comes again, day will fully be broken. We are living in that liminal space, that in between time, but we need to get ready—putting away things of the night (things done in the dark) and getting dressed to function in the day.
- So get up and get dressed, mentally and spiritually, because you DO have some place to go and someone to see. Eventually we will be escorted to the place not made of human hands where we’ll see Jesus and all those who have gone before us. We don’t know the day or the time when Jesus will return for you personally or for all of us collectively when he comes again to earth. From looking at the events in our world, we may think the time is in the next few hours. But the reality is, we don’t know, so Paul is telling us, as Jesus did, to be ready so that we would be found loving one another as best we can.
- This includes resisting excessive indulgences in sensual pleasure (debauchery), promiscuous and unprincipled sexual behavior, quarreling, and jealousy. As Jesus outlined in the sermon on the mount, attitudes and state of mind can impact behavior so all of these things listed here can wind up hurting your neighbor, hurting others. You may think a little indulgence won’t matter. “I’m grown, I can do what I want.” But talk to anyone who has ever lost a loved one because of someone else’s grown up decision to drink and drive; or those left to pick up the pieces of a broken heart after giving themselves—body and spirit to someone if the relationship doesn’t last. Or if in a marriage, a partner cheats, lies, steals, or covets—the devastation that accompanies a break up that may result from such violations can be enduringly painful and the impact can last a lifetime. We see the impact that racism, bigotry, jealousy, bullying cause in our communities.
- This is why Paul warns us to avoid such temptations as they can lead to our inability to fulfill the commandment to love your neighbor as you love yourself—which means Do No Harm To Your Neighbor. Methodist heritage emphasizes this as well, do all the good you can, and at the minimum strive to do no harm.
- Point #3: How do we do this? We get dressed up! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ! (v.14) As in baptism (Galatians 3:27), we identify with his death, burial, and resurrection. We do the things he did while he was on earth when he lived a life of service and devotion to God.
- Getting dressed includes practicing spiritual disciplines: Bible reading, prayer, fasting, associate with like- minded believers, be a good steward of that which God has given you to take care of your body– adopt a healthy lifestyle, be generous with your time, talent, and money, and participating in the sacraments (getting baptized and regularly taking communion). We also avoid situations that tempt us to sin.
- We should get dressed on Sunday and every day, in our hearts, like you expect to meet up with someone special that day. We should dress as if we expected God to walk along life’s pathways with us, because he does!