I have an outfit of clothes that I call my love-outfit. My main love language is gifts, and this outfit is made up of clothing that was a gift. They were given to me on days that weren’t particularly special in themselves, they were just days that I happened to need some love.
My husband got me the pants and t-shirt when we were out of town at a conference and the venue was FREEZING, so my summer clothes weren’t cutting it. I had been shivering all day, and he got me new clothes for the evening session. The socks are from a care package a close friend dropped off the day after my dad died.
So whenever I’m having a week when I feel low, or I know the day ahead is going to be difficult, I wear my love-outfit. A tactile reminder of the love I have from my closest people. I am literally wrapped in their love. This last week was a challenging one, and I for sure got my love-outfit out.
It got me thinking about a conversation I had with a writer friend a couple weeks back, before the world shut down. He was talking about the cultural phenomenon of cosplay. People dress up like their favorite sci-fi or fantasy character and go to Comicon, or act out bits from the movies and books with other cosplay friends. These people are putting on a character, full of traits and belief systems. They can quote long passages from the stories. They are living out these stories as much as they can in their actual life.
People seem to desire to be pulled into something larger than themselves, even if it is just a story. I love a good sci-fi read, don’t get me wrong, but I leave it in the books. However, I do have a book that I have half memorized at least to the point of paraphrase. I do have a belief system I try to live out, a character I try to emulate, and that is the story and character of Jesus.
When I meditate on His Word, or I choose His way over my own, even remembering the lengths He went to in acquiring salvation for me, these all help to wrap my mind and heart in His love. The grace and security I have in Jesus are my love-outfit from Him that I can put on my life every day.
I think this is what Peter is getting at in his first epistle, “Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-16 RSV)
Keep your thought life in check, keep your hope anchored in Jesus. Let go of the old habits that undermine the new life and freedom you have in Christ. Peter quotes Leviticus at the end of this passage. The phrase, “Be holy, for I am holy” happens a few times throughout the book of Leviticus (Lev. 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7). Which is a book that is all about old habits that should be left behind in Egypt and new habits that should replace them.
Now, in the new covenant we have in Jesus, we are not under the Levitical Law (Paul is pretty clear about this in the book of Romans). Nicky Gumbel says to read the book of Leviticus with the lens of Jesus, and I agree with him on that point. There is, however, something to be gained from this idea of leaving old undermining habits behind to make room for new habits that reinforce the life and redemption I have in Jesus.
So in these difficult days of self-quarantine and social distancing, I find myself taking stock once again of my habits. I want to face every day, with every potential new challenge in it, firmly grounded in the grace and hope I have from Jesus. In fact, the first part of chapter one talks about going through trials, but holding onto the knowledge of salvation in Jesus:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:3-9 RSV)
I know that was a long quote, but it is too good to cut short. It is a list of the treasure within our faith. A treasure that cannot be taken away by trial, but improved when we keep our minds and our hearts on Jesus. A treasure that is a sure thing, untouched by Covid-19, or any other sickness.
Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit, and He brings that same resurrection power to my life. So that whatever today looks like, no matter how bad it looks, it is not the last word on me or my life. I have given my life to Jesus, so He has the last word. He is good and loves me with an everlasting love, so I know the words He has spoken over my life are good.