Friday, May 15, 2009

Wearing Jesus

I've been in the best Bible study for years now. Our teacher, Marci, is amazing. I've learned so much from her and her passion to teach God's word within culture & context. I'm sad we're almost done for the season. Sigh...

We've been studying the writings of Paul. He's been very difficult. The "Pharisee of Pharisees" has been hard to understand. I'm glad I've stuck with it though.

This season, we've been in Romans. This week was, I think, I'm first real "Ah-ha" of the season. Not that I haven't learned anything because I have. But this week was neat. I thought I'd share it with you. Whomever you are.

We were at the end of chapter 13 of Romans. In verse 14 it says to "clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ...". As Marci often does she asked us a "Reflect" question: "What do you think Paul was saying when he told the believer to, "Clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ"? At first I was going to rush right by it. I never know what Paul means. He's Paul. He's difficult to get. Then I worried, "I don't know, I just make costumes." But I reflected a little longer. I'm glad I did. Here's what I wrote & shared with my small group:

"Clothes are a way to reflect & communicate who you are to yourself & to others. Especially in those (Biblical) times, you are what you wear."

Other people in my group had great answers too. Me being a costumer, I was the only one who went to actual clothes. That made us smile. But a group member told Marci, the gist of what I said & after class, she wanted to hear exactly what I said. She liked it too. On my drive home I kept reflecting (I guess I liked that people liked what I said).

As I drove I was reflecting on my answer. I needed to get my thoughts in a row. I decided to write Marci an email further explaining my thoughts. Again, I thought I'd share it with you too. Here it is:
I was reflecting more about my "reflection" for question #14 on my drive home from tonight's study. I was considering it even more in the world I work, the theatre. I guess I came to my answer to your question not only by worrying to myself "I can't answer that. I just make costumes." But by then reflecting on what a costume and clothes do.

A costume not only tells the audience who an actor is playing (that's, I guess, a given). But it (the costume) has told and continues to tell the actor how to portray their character. How to become that character. An actor recently told our shop, "I'm so glad when the costume does all the work." He saw his costume as a direction of how to stand, sit, walk. His costume dictated to him how he could interact & move around his fellow actors and even set pieces. A costume can prevent an actor from doing some things they thought may be good for the character and then give them insights into other ways of becoming their character that they hadn't thought of prior to their costume fitting.

I guess when I read Paul's message to "clothe yourself in Christ" I'm considering what Christ is and how do I clothe myself with him. How do I wear Jesus? And why? I was reminded of your teaching that a disciple's goal is to become their rabbi. By clothing myself in Jesus I am training myself to become my Rabbi as an actor does a character. I am making a statement to myself of how to live. How to treat myself & others. How I behave, and how I move throughout this life among my cast mates and set pieces. As with an actor, it's a continual process that continues far past fittings, rehearsals and opening night. It continues throughout the run of the show and doesn't end until the final curtain of the final show and they no longer need that costume. They then move to the next role in their life.

To the audience a costume is an immediate communicator of who that actor has become. Only of course if it's a good one. A poorly designed and/or poorly worn costume doesn't communicate very clearly. My cast mates and audience members should know by the "clothes" I wear that I am a disciple of my Jesus. They should know instantly that I am different from the other characters in the play and be drawn to that difference and want to discuss that difference after the show over coffee with one another.

This of course is not to belittle the practice of one's Christian life to the level of putting on a play. The clothing oneself in Jesus, of course, needs to be genuine of heart and a life changing deed. Not a deed that we take off when the crowds are gone & the spotlight is off. But this was the analogy (is that the right word?) that spoke to me.

Thanks for letting me indulge what may be a narcissistic post.