Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clothes Make the Man...if he allows them to

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1.9)

The events of the Ascension of Christ, described in Acts and celebrated this year on May 13th, bring to completion the unification of human nature with the Divine Godhead of the Holy Trinity. In His incarnation Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, took on human flesh and united it to Himself. In His Ascension our human nature is forever united to Divinity. Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos writes, “So the value of the Ascension is in the fact that the human flesh which was deified by its union with the divine nature of the Word, is seated on the kingly throne, at the right hand of God the Father.”

In today’s society we are fond of blaming many sinful and hurtful behaviors on human nature. “It’s human nature…” begins many defense arguments. But as Christians we are united to Jesus Christ in our Baptism and therefore we have a NEW nature. We are a new creation clothed with Christ Himself. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galations 3.27) This quotation from Saints Paul’s Epistle is sung at every baptism in the Orthodox Church and it reflects the reality that we have died to the world and are born anew in Christ. In the sense of our Baptism, clothing really does make the man.

Indeed the clothing we wear every day effects our behavior doesn’t it? We dress for the occasion. I’ve never seen a farmer plow his fields wearing a tuxedo nor have I seen a judge rule in a case wearing a swimsuit. So how can we continue to live a life of sin clothed with God? After our baptism we were clothed in white to signify the purity of our new nature, but as we live in the world we soil the inner garments of our soul every time we sin.

When Christ ascended to His Throne, He took our new nature with Him and forever united us to divinity. The next time we think about our behavior, either in public or in private, we should think about what it will do to our new white clothes. If we want to keep ourselves clean and pure, and we think about our new white clothes we are wearing, maybe we can avoid the sinful behaviors that will leave behind the residue of sin.

Christ ascended the Throne of God and now we “may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1.4) We have been clothed in Christ; let our clothing make us who we really should be.

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