Worship Service, October 11, 2020, “Clothed with the Mind of Christ”

Worship Service, October 11, 2020, "Clothed with the Mind of Christ"

Join Holy Trinity Church members and Pastor Erik

Sunday morning via YouTube

 

The message for October 11, 2020 by Pastor Erik,

Clothed with the Mind of Christ” 

can be heard during HTLC Virtual Worship Service on Sunday.

 

 

“Clothed with the Mind of Christ” Matthew 22:1-14

The kind of clothes we wear can make a difference on how we feel. When we put on some comfy pajamas at night it can help us feel cozy and relaxed.

When we get dressed up for a work meeting it can help us feel sharp and prepared as well as more confident. When we put on our sweatpants and tennis shoes it can help put us in the mindset of exercise. The clothes that we choose to wear can also reflect our status, our values and even our priorities. The brand names we put on or don’t put on, the messages that may be written on our clothes can all say something about who we are or what we might believe. In the ancient world when Jesus lived clothing could have similar significance. It could reflect a person’s socioeconomic status, their mood or even their character.

In the parable Jesus tells today we hear about a man who seems to be getting judged by the kind of clothes he is wearing, or more precisely, he is getting judged by the kind of clothes he is not wearing. Apparently, a king has invited this man to a wedding, but the man is not wearing a wedding robe. When the king sees him improperly dressed, he asks how he got in without a wedding robe. The man does not have an answer, so the king throws him out.

The story is troubling enough as we might empathize with the poor guy for being judged simply based on what he wasn’t wearing, but it is especially troubling because Jesus has prefaced this whole parable with telling his listeners that this story tells them something about what the kingdom of heaven is like. Does this mean we have to wear a certain kind of clothing to get into heaven?

I think that the writer Michael Verdicchio has some helpful insights when it comes to this difficult parable. He says that the key to this parable is that it was the marriage of a king’s son. In Bible times, if you were invited to a wedding given by a king for the marriage of one of his children, you did not wear your own wedding robe. Attending that marriage with your own wedding robe would be a great insult because the king would provide a wedding robe for all the guests.

The king would make careful arrangements to see that all the garments would be delivered to each guest. Everyone who attended would then be wearing the attire provided for them by the king. So, when you attended a wedding given by a king, you didn’t come showing your own social standing, wealth, or prestige, but rather you were showing the king’s power and prestige.

Those hearing Jesus speak this parable understood what he was saying. They lived in this culture and practiced these customs. They understood that this man was not too poor to acquire a proper garment. They understood that this was not a mistake, but a deliberate act by the man in refusing what the king provided. They understood why the king ordered him to be thrown out of the wedding. By not wearing the wedding robe, the man would have been in a sense insulting the king’s standing. It would have reflected poorly on the king’s hospitality and prestige.

What we wear can reflect what we value or where our focus lies. This can be most easily seen in the way many people wear t-shirts, jerseys or hats that reflect their support of a certain sports team. A person’s support of a certain team can simply just be to have fun and cheer a team on, but it can also tell you about what kind of sports they like, where they might live or where they came from. What people wear can also reflect what kind of political or social causes they might support as well.

When Jesus tells the parable of the wedding banquet, he isn’t just talking about a literal wedding robe. He is comparing it to our spiritual lives and asking his listeners to think about what it is that we are wearing on our hearts and minds. What is being reflected by our thoughts and actions? Are we honoring the heavenly king? Are we reflecting the path of God in our lives?

The New Testament uses clothing imagery to describe different aspects of our relationship with God. One thing such imagery can describe is our union with Christ that happens at our baptism. In Galatians 3:26-27 Paul writes, “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” Therefore, everyone who has committed their life to Christ by faith has the status of having “put on Christ.”

Clothing imagery can also vividly portray the transformation that results from our relationship with Jesus Christ. In contrast to living a life of disobedience to God and his ways, Paul instructs believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). Sometimes the command is to “be clothed” with certain godly characteristics that are a reflection of Christ himself: The book of Colossians says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12). Thus, the call to “be clothed” with these godly characteristics is rooted in our status as ones who are holy, chosen and loved by God.

This is a status that we do not need to earn. It is simply bestowed on us through our baptism as we are invited to walk into the room of God’s mercy and love. But the question is, will we accept the invitation? Will we put on the robe of Christ or will we refuse to wear it?

In the parable, the guest who does not put on the wedding robe is thrown out into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. When we don’t put our hearts and minds on Christ we can end up going down a self-destructive path. We can dwell on negative thoughts about ourselves or others. We can let worry and fear dominate our mindset so that our struggles and frustrations our magnified.

Today we heard in Paul’s letter to the Philippians how we can combat getting sucked into that kind of negative direction. He gives some very concrete advice of how we can be clothed with the mind of Christ, which will put us in the life-giving, positive direction that God would intend for our lives. Paul does this by talking about how we can shift our focus and think on certain things.

Whatever we focus on tends to get expanded in our minds. If you’ve ever purchased a new car you’ve seen this principle in action. Before you bought your car, you might not have noticed your make and model of car on the road. But once you signed on the dotted line for your car it seemed like every fifth car on the road was one like yours. Did tons of people suddenly go out and buy the same car you did? No. But now your brain is focused on that make and model, so it notices every single one that drives by. So, what might we focus on that could expand the things of Christ within our minds?

Here are some of the things Paul lists that we should focus our time and energy thinking about rather than filling our minds with all the junk that life can throws at us and spending our time worrying.

1) Whatever things are True – It can be hard in this age of the internet and social media to know what is true. So many times when we speculate or make assumptions we are thinking about things that are simply not true. Because we don’t have all the information, our brains try to fill in the gaps with something. When we do that, we can get sucked into lies.
To be true means to be in line with what actually is – as in a true story; real, genuine, authentic. It means to be sincere, firm in allegiance, faithful, steadfast – as in a true friend; being or reflecting the essential or genuine character of something – as in its true nature. How can we work to discern what is true?

2) Whatever things are Honorable – How much of what we spend our mental energy on is vulgar? What if we spent more time thinking on things that are honorable? Something is honorable when it is of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence. Other words to describe honorable are: noble, lofty, elevated, principled; magnanimous; worthy.

3) Whatever things are Just – So much in our culture seems to be turning things upside down when it comes to justice. How can we lift up fairness in our legal and economic systems? How can we be aware of making things more just in our workplaces, in our schools, and in our society so that all might have an equal voice and equal opportunities?

4) Whatever things are Pure – A pure thing is innocent, modest, clean, free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous material. Too much worry contaminates what God says about us and who we truly are in Christ. We need to catch ourselves when we mix in those impurities, take it back to God’s Word and see what God says about us, about other people, and about our situation.

5) Whatever things are Pleasing – Things that are pleasing are acceptable. They are charming, lovely or beautiful, in a way that does not just appeal to the eye, but in a deeper way that appeals to the heart or mind as well.

It is good for us to appreciate and notice things of beauty around us. We need to feed our souls with things that are pleasing just like we feed our bodies with good physical food.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure or pleasing—these are some of the things we can think on that can expand our minds to focus on that which is excellent or worthy of praise. This influences what we do and who we are so that it becomes evident that lives are clothed with Christ, and when others see that we are wearing Christ, they too become interested in the invitation. It is an invitation that is extended to all. It is an invitation to celebrate, to see joy, to practice gratitude, to join in the heavenly banquet and be a part of God’s kingdom. Why not put on the robe of Christ and enjoy its benefits? Amen.

-Pastor Erik Goehner

 

You may view any previous worship services by visiting the

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Thousand Oaks YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwXH9eTSk8ev8t7sg4lm_rw

Share