As I led RISE (our morning assembly) today, I looked out upon an outbreak (the word is appropriate) of tacky Christmas sweaters worn by our Veritas students. This was not a show of anti-dress code solidarity; we just thought it'd be fun for kids to show off the worst in their parents' closets. We were not disappointed.
After we snapped a few pictures and laughed together at the cheery awfulness of the attire, I told our students that Christmas is not the only time some of us wear tacky sweaters. In fact, all of us tend to wear tacky sweaters more than we think; in Bible times, these were called filthy rags of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).
I suggested to our students that we often forget about the righteous robes God provided when we repented of sin and received Christ's atonement for our sins. Instead of resting in these robes of righteousness, we throw on our tacky sweaters of works and self-righteousness, somehow convincing ourselves that this is what God really wants to see instead.
How many of us, I asked, think that reading the Bible (more) or praying (more) or passing Bible class with an A (or hiding the fact that we only have a C) directly impacts how much more or less God loves us? Nothing is further from the truth, and yet we keep valuing those (and plenty of other) tacky sweaters as important to how we look to God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10)
And the Apostle Paul encourages us in this way:
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith." (Philippians 3:8-9)
This holiday season, we can go ahead and wear our tacky Christmas sweaters of wool and yarn if they (somehow) help us celebrate Christ's birth. But let's leave our tacky sweaters of works and self-righteousness in the closet of Christ's crucifixion, as they just don't match our new creation attire.
(Photo courtesy of Holly Martin)