So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Most times when I read this verse, I think about myself.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me. In my dress shirt and pants I appear trim and athletic. But you’ll not catch me wearing a bathing suit. Age has taken its pound of flesh from my self-image and molded several around my midsection. Love handles, they’re called.
I hate them.
But at 60 years old, I’ve learned to compensate. I never take my shirt off in public.
Hiding behind clothes reminds me of my younger days when I didn’t need to conceal bulging flesh. I weighed 150 pounds of muscle and proudly strutted shirtless along the beach. But even while I exposed my physique, I hid a lot of other things behind a wardrobe of my own making.
For a while I wore intellectualism and various self-centered philosophies like a suit of armor. My two favorite outfits were: “All religions lead to the same place,” and “as long as no one gets hurt, it doesn’t matter how we live.”
Then for a time I clothed myself with atheism -- and for good reason. If God didn’t exist, then I had no one to whom I would ultimately answer. I could do what I pleased -- so long as I didn’t get caught.
A few years later, when I accepted the likelihood of God’s existence, I wrapped myself in a robe of religion. I memorized the Ten Commandments (to show God I was serious) and performed good deeds as often as it was convenient to do so.
As I continued changing wardrobes I never suspected how threadbare my clothes had become. Only when I discovered the gospel of Christ did I recognize my nakedness. To make things worse, God stood me in front of His mirror . . . the Scriptures.
I cringed at what I saw.
My reflection sagged under the weight of every fold and crease of my sins - thefts, immorality, pride, blasphemy, drunkenness, and my baby whom I killed by abortion.
I wanted to cover myself, to do anything to hide my hideous appearance. But there was nowhere to go. Nothing to wear. At the time I didn’t know the Biblical term, but I needed a conversion of heart, a rebirth (St. John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:3). I needed to become a new creation, (2 Corinthians 5:17), to exchange my filthy clothes for Christ’s robes of righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
But . . . enough about myself.
Are you like me? If you're trying to hide something from God, I can tell you from experience, you may as well give up. He sees through every fabric and every layer of excuse you slip on to cover your sins. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight," Scripture tells us. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
So, since He sees it all anyway, why continue the charade? Why not just unload all that burdensome weight and let God embrace you in His incomprehensible and warmly intimate love? “If anyone is in Christ,” St. Paul wrote, “he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means God offers us a new heart and a new life. And Isaiah urged, be clothed "with garments of salvation and arrayed . . . in a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). That means no one has to live with the old clothes, because God spread His arms on a cross to offer us spotless garments, an eternal and flawless remedy available only in Jesus Christ.
All we have to do is stop our cover-ups, make an honest and humble confession . . .
And then start obeying Him.