Shelly and I are preparing to officiate at the wedding of some close friends in a little over a week. Yesterday, Shelly went shopping for attire for the wedding, which she showed me when I got home last night from work. The dress and accompanying jacket were beautiful, but it was when she showed me the jewelry and shoes, with the splash of color they brought, that the outfit came alive.
When we don the new human, a garment patterned after the image of its (and our) creator, it comes with accoutrements that highlight the beauty of Jesus. Colossians 3:12-14, which I translated here, lists these: a compassionate heart, helpfulness, humility, courteousness, patience, bearing with one another, & forgiving each other. These are the Christian virtues, that is, the attributes of Christ which he imparts to us. Wearing them, we embody Jesus in our daily lives, we bring his beauty into a dark world and reflect his glory on those we encounter. We turn heads, we cause people to talk about us, we set the fashion that others want to follow.
Image, they say, is everything, and the Image we show is indeed Everything (Christ is all in all, after all). People see true humanity in our virtues, and they see the revelation of God. And, having a taste for the beauty of the Lord, they hunger for more.
I think this is what the Lord meant by telling us we are salt and light. And it is very important to recognize that we are such things not in ourselves but because of Jesus. We have such beauty because he is beautiful toward us. A reminder like this is important to me since I struggle with being virtuous. How can I be patient, or helpful, or humble? Only because I am swept up into Jesus’ patience, his helpfulness, his humility, and so on. And how can I express love? Only because he loved me. As John tell us, “we love because God first loved us.” The love that binds all the virtues together, that is the utmost accoutrement, is God’s Love first and foremost. We need to return again and again to this truth, and that’s why understanding who Jesus is and what he has done is so important. Jesus, who is both God and human, is the unique expression of God’s love; only in Jesus can we fully know love, and only in him have we any hope in expressing love.
Do you wish to be beautiful? (Or maybe you prefer handsome?) Look at Jesus, consider his beauty, receive his love, let him transform you. He is the master stylist, and in his hands you will never look the same.