Luk 15:22 But the father said to his servants, ‘ Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet…
I have a couple of t-shirts that have the phrase “Yay God” on the front. Some days I really want to wear one. Those are usually the days I am going to be around my believing friends going to a conference or just hanging out. Other times I don’t put it on because I am going to be out in public and well… I wonder if I have missed something. No, I’m sure I have missed something. Want to get your brain stretched? OK, here goes.
I have often heard it taught that the righteousness of Jesus covers us like a robe. This righteousness covers up all our bad stuff so God can show His goodness towards us. I used to think that made sense but now I’m pretty sure that isn’t right. It is a good image except it makes God look like a liar or double minded. It works if you are absolutely convinced that our sin disgusts God and He is repulsed by our very person because of our sin. It works when you see God as a temperamental judge who has obsessive compulsive tendencies that must get the stuff clean clean clean! It works if Jesus didn’t do enough on the cross. Nope.
I’ve written many posts about how God so loved THE ENTIRE WORLD that HE DIED for us to prove it. He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it. He came to us in the garden when we ate from the wrong tree. He ate with the “sinners” when He walked on this Earth. I can go on and on but instead I want to shift a bit and talk about this “robe” thing in a different light, the light of the goodness of God.
First we have been talking about being born again and stepping out of the bushes in the last 4 posts. I suggest you take a look if you have time. The very brief summary is we lost the ability to see how good God is when we got poisoned by bad fruit. We ran away from Him instead of to Him. We hid in the bushes and coward in shame. God came to us, gave us clothes for our shame and pulled us out of the bushes. Still today our bush seeking fallen nature is the problem. We can’t believe in or refuse to see a good God. We blame Him for pretty much everything and won’t step out into the light of His goodness where He makes us new. That is why Jesus came. That is why the Holy Spirit came. Jesus removes any excuse for condemnation that makes us hide. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the goodness of God. Now finally we can have a completely reconciled relationship with our loving Father who wants nothing from us other than our love for Him. Check this out:
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
Now time for stretching. Here are a few verses from a well-known story:
Gen 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a [distinctive] long tunic with sleeves. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved [Joseph] more than all of his brothers, they hated him and could not say, Peace [in friendly greeting] to him or speak peaceably to him. (AMP)
And here is a great passage from Isaiah:
Isaiah 61:10 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. (ESV)
Could it be that our “robe of righteousness” is actually a banner we carry to show others? What if the robe doesn’t cover our faults but instead shows off God’s goodness? What if we are supposed to proudly wear our robe of righteousness to declare how awesome our Father is?
It isn’t that hard to see is it? Well it is if you still see an angry, impossible to please God. It is if all you’ve ever been taught is how God can’t wait to judge you and punish you if you don’t perform at the right level. Maybe it is if all you have ever heard is how this is a cosmic test to see if you have the right stuff. It is impossible to see a good God who loves you, really loves you, if all you experienced is pain and abuse and rejection with everyone telling you God is trying to teach you a lesson (that one really gets me upset). You get the idea. That isn’t God.
But still if you display your robe of righteousness (your perfectly right relationship with your loving Father who has no performance conditions of you because He has done everything on the cross that defeat the lies that He could possibly be angry at you, that righteousness) we get this kind of response:
Luke 15:29 but he answered his father, ‘ Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him! ’ (ESVST) (That hyper-Grace stuff is dangerous and not fair!!!)
Or like Joseph’s brothers they want to throw us into a deep well. Of course our answer to them should be:
Luk 15:31 And he said to him, ‘ Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found. ’” (ESVST)
If we changed the story and said something ridiculous like… say your Dad was Santa Claus and you are 10? You would want to tell everyone about your Dad. You would brag and show off your family pictures. You would be so excited and happy and filled with joy to tell all the kids in your class about your awesome Dad. Wouldn’t you do that? Come on. That is our robe of righteousness.
So I am rethinking the “Yay God” t-shirt. I think now I want one that says
“God is my Dad and He is amazing.”
Or maybe one that says
“God has all the answers ask me.”
Maybe it just simply says
“I am right with God!” (with a subtitle) “I’m righteous.”
Or maybe (the best one)
“God is right with me!”
You decide. I’m praying for more faith and certainty that I always know I am right with Him and it shows. I want to know it and declare it and share it. Then when the “who do you think you are?” looks and comments come you can say with certainty “He is right with you too!” I think that is what Jesus was talking about here:
Rev 3:5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (NASB)
So I say we proudly wear our robes. I say we tell people about how awesome our Abba is. I say we brag about our brother and groom Jesus. I say we give them the Holy Spirit who will reveal the goodness of God. Yep, robe of righteousness. Do you think sequins or glitter is too much?