A good friend of mine posted the following on his facebook. I thought it was wonderful and asked if I could share it with you. Beware....you might feel the pull of conviction.
Your Ugly Sweater by Peter Flaherty
You know the one. You got it several years back from an old relative for Christmas and hated it. You wore it that day as brashly as you wore the insincere smile on your face, but most of the time it’s jammed in the back of your closet in a heap, as far away from the eyes of the public as possible. You wear it now and again, sometimes to please a certain group of people and sometimes because you’re forced to, but once they are gone it’s right back in the closet in a heap.
Those of you who know me well, know that it takes quite a bit to upset me, but this has gotten to me. It has upset me to my core, and makes me irate every time I come in contact with it. “Christians” who treat their faith like an ugly sweater.You put it on when you’re around the people who you need to see you in it. Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights...you may even wear it to a couple outreaches in the community, and always perfectly accessorized with that insincere smug smile and a little bit of false humility...“How are you today brother?”
“Oh strong in the Lord! I’m living day to day in His grace. Hallelujah.”...almost asking, can’t you see my sweater?But when church lets out, and the outreaches are over, and there’s no one left to fool, the sweater can’t come off quick enough. And there it is again, lying in a heap on the floor. Disregarded and unappreciated until the next “show”.
WE ARE ASHAMED OF IT. If someone were to see me wearing my faith out in public, what would they say? What would they think of me? If I’m wearing that I can’t put on my independence.
What you really mean to say is, “my greed, my selfishness, my lust...my fun, won’t fit over that sweater." You see the problem is we don’t want to give God everything. We want our freedom to do what we want without the constraints of a fickle God. We’ve got no room from Monday thru Saturday for that sweater...we’ve already picked out what were going to wear.
For those of you who don’t follow metaphor very well here it is plain and simple...We’ll give God “His day”, but the rest of the time we respectfully ask him to stay out of our lives. “I can’t watch what I want with you sitting right here God...why don’t you go help someone that’s in real trouble?”
“God, my girlfriend and I want some ‘alone time’, if you know what I mean, so if you could just....you know, go get a cup of coffee or something that’d be great.”
“So did you see what Rachel was wearing today? What an ugly cow! I can’t even look at her without wanting to vom....oh, hey God...I didn’t see you standing there...uh, I don’t really need you right now, so...”
And as gracious a God as we serve, as we continually, through our actions, throw Him aside and ask him to stay out of our lives...the day will come when he will grant our request and let us to our own deceitful devices.
We don’t get it do we. The gift he has given us was bought with the ultimate sacrifice. It was knit together by the hands that were scarred by nails...the same hands that molded the mountains and set the sun in the sky. But it doesn’t suit our style. It doesn’t feel right when we wear it, and maybe that’s because we’ve still got our filthy rags on underneath and we continue to refuse to let it be the only thing we need. We cannot keep on like this...the bible says we cannot straddle the fence, we must not be lukewarm. God says that if we are neither hot nor cold he will spew us from his mouth.“Stop sweating the small stuff” does not work!
I'm tired of people wearing the name Christian (we who were called to be stars in the universe) trying as hard as they can to blend in with this garbage dump of a society! I CAN BARELY TELL THE DIFFERENCE ANYMORE! We must do as Paul says in Philippians, and focus our minds and our hearts on what is right in all things...”whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4: 8, 9
Put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.May you see that the garment offered you has been lovingly made, beautifully crafted, freely given, and sacrificially payed for by a God who loves you and waits for you to wear it without shame.
Right on Peter!
God loves you,