A previous article dealt with defining what a Christian is by means of a reflection on Romans 13:14. St. Paul urges them to become more like Christ. Christians are called to reproduce in themselves the image of the Lord. Christianity is about us fading and Christ shining.
This might seem to suggest that the Christian ideal of reproducing the Lord’s image in ourselves involves a negative consequence, viz. the diminishing of our own self, the repression of our identity. To overcome this objection, let us go back to St. Paul’s metaphor. In his letter to the Romans, he says that the Lord is like a mantle that we can wear to cover our nakedness. Clothing, of course, is made to be worn. It is hard to deny that clothing is not only convenient but also necessary. Clothing has a function that we could call “protective”: against bad weather or harmful elements in the environment, for example. But in addition there is another function to clothing: it is also a means of showing who we are. Think, for instance, in the use of uniforms or of specific garments for certain occasions. The way somebody is dressed is also an indicator of his role. You expect a doctor to be dressed as a doctor, and you are expected to wear a tie when attending a formal meeting.
This consideration on the function of clothing, albeit partial, allow us to throw light on St. Paul’s words about “wearing on Christ”. Clothing does not cancel our own being nor our personality –and indeed it even enhances them, in the sense that clothing can become a means for expressing who we are. Applying this to the Christian, and bearing in mind that every comparison falls short in certain aspects, it is clear that “putting on Christ” is not an action that will suppress our own self. Rather, putting on Christ protects us from the “machinations of the devil” (Eph 6:11), and enables us to wisely face life’s ups and downs.
Living in Christ and living according to Christ lead us to become like Christ. In such a way our own self is not destroyed nor wiped out, but elevated and transformed. Christians are expected to “wear Christ”. When we fade and allow Christ shine, through Him and in Him we shine too.
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