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Monday, November 28, 2011

Wearing White

I lifted a forkful of pasta liberally coated with aromatic marinara sauce, bits of Italian sausage, and a slice of mushroom. Suddenly I felt the telltale miniscule drop in weight that meant a smidgen of food had fallen from my fork somewhere in the region below my chin as I conveyed it from my plate to my mouth. I looked down at the front of my shirt with trepidation.  As I feared, a red spot had bloomed on the expanse of white. Why does this always happen? It seems like any white shirt I wear is a magnet for whatever I happen to be eating, or whatever sticky, crumbly, or oily surface I go near. 

I cannot keep a white shirt clean. This is a real annoyance to me as I love to wear white.  Wearing white reminds me of the purity of a mantle of new-fallen snow under the light of a full moon. The pristine surface bears no footprints or animal tracks that mar its tender breast.  There is not a sound in the universe, and God is nearer than the next frosty breath. Okay, so wearing a white shirt doesn’t really remind me of all this. I was carried away by the melodramatic lyricism of my own prose. See previous blog post on pride.

White does make me think of light.  White light is comprised of every color under the sun.  If you shine white light at a prism, all the colors of the rainbow shoot out.  White light is complete, whole. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

As I contemplated the spot of spaghetti sauce on my chest, a spiritual analogy occurred to me. After wearing a white shirt several times, there are often shadows of stains that did not completely come out in the wash.  And even the bleach that is supposed to remove the spots has a tendency to yellow the shirt.  The shirt gradually goes from being the first thing I pull out of the closet to the last.  It becomes a filthy rag that I do not want to wear, just like our own righteousness.

Bleach only leaches the color out, it doesn’t clean. If you have accidentally dripped bleach on a colored garment, or leaned against the tub while using cleanser, only to discover a pale band across your shirt later, you know this.  But Jesus cleans like the stain never was. There are no phantom spots left. 

We can wear white whenever we want—all we have to do is repent and confess our sins, and God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Not like a white shirt that we have to buy new, and we know that in time will have to be replaced. With Jesus, our repentance renews His life within us. It doesn’t just leach out the color, like bleach, like the sacrifices in the Old Testament that had to be repeated over and over again, like washing a white shirt and never being able to really get the spots out completely.

So in this world I will continue dripping spaghetti sauce and other things on my white shirts and will continue having to buy new ones. Every time I do, though, I hope that it reminds me that this world is not our home and that blinding, fresh white is our legacy in Christ. Because He is the propitiation for our sins, once and for all, and we are clothed in His righteousness.

Scripture references: Isaiah 64:6, I John 1:5, 9; I John 2:1-2 


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