Picture in your mind’s eye, a black-and-white photograph displaying a bird’s-eye-view of your Sunday morning crowd. If the soul could be readily observed, you would no doubt observe 50 shades of grey.
Some poor souls come to worship with spirits kicking and screaming as loved ones drag them across the threshold. Since they’ve not allowed themselves to feel the love of Jesus, they are far from God. Their hearts, covered in past mistakes and hurt, ooze the dark ink of guilt and condemnation – so much so, their souls appear jet black in the photo.
Others, in varying shades of grey, come because it’s the Christian’s warm-up act for Sunday lunch. Or perhaps, they see attendance as their “Get Out of Hell” card. Or possibly, they’re just looking for a social gathering place that elevates their good standing in the community. Most have experienced real love in short bursts, but none of them are confident that such an overwhelming love can be theirs on a permanent basis.
However, throughout the photo, you can’t help but notice spots so white they almost shimmer on the paper. These are the souls who’ve allowed themselves to be clothed in Christ. Beneath His royal, shimmering robe sits the sinner who knows the love of Jesus. They’ve navigated the previous week wrapped in His grace. Every mistake has been covered. Every prayer listened to. Every need met. This sinner doesn’t feel guilt and shame – only joy and peace. If they could find the words, they’d try to explain the difference they feel between their previous blackness and their current snow-white life. They crave being able to share all God’s done for them. In fact, they might compare it to falling in love because that’s what they’ve done. They’ve fallen in love with Jesus because they know exactly how much grace was needed to scrub them clean. They can’t quit thinking about Him. They look for ways to make Him smile. They long for more and more time together. There is a spring in their step and a sparkle in their eyes that can’t be explained any other way than pure love. Yes, they’ve been clothed with Christ, but His Spirit also lives within them. I guess you could say they’ve been transformed inside and out – and no one can argue with that!
My walk with Jesus has faded in and out of various tones of grey during the course of my life. That’s why I know them all so well. But it was actually some girls dressed in orange that nudged me a bit closer to the lighter end of the scale. Inmates in orange jumpsuits forced me to dismantle my belief system, study God’s Word, and then allowed Him to rebuild my faith. Oh, how I wish I had done that years and years ago! When I studied Acts 17 I wanted to become like the Bereans who listened to Paul and Silas with great eagerness, and then examined the Scriptures every day to see if what they said was true. I don’t take others’ teaching at face value anymore.
If you are able to read this, then I take it that God has blessed you with a sound mind. I’m challenging you to spend the next 50 days working through your own shades of grey. Get in the Word every day and ask God your questions. Don’t just read verses. Read chapters at a time. Get the big picture. Talk it out with your friends. See if you don’t change at least one belief along the way. You may have read the entire Bible through many times, but this time read it as if you know nothing. (If it helps, put on an orange jumpsuit as you read. 🙂 ) By April 22, we’ll all be clothed in shimmering love. I can’t wait to hear the results. Are you in?
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” – Isaiah 61:10, NIV