Scenes From Levi’s Deli:
OLD FLANNEL SHIRT
“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.” Matthew 9:16 (NLT)
How many of us have had that favorite old shirt or pair of jeans that we just can’t part with? In my younger years it may not have been a favorite pair but a necessary shirt or pair of jeans for the simple reason we couldn’t afford new. In either occasion if those garments got torn a patch was the thing that made that garment last just a little bit longer. Sometimes those patches were sewn on and someone had to take the time to be meticulous with their craft and get that patch just right. As America got in the convenient lane where it takes 30 seconds to get a burger (figuratively speaking that is) we had the iron-on patch that got you back into those garments in no time flat.
However, it doesn’t sound like Jesus was into patching old garments up. On the contrary it sounds like He wants you to wear new. As Jesus went on with His dialogue after the question of fasting came up at Matthew’s home, The Savior goes into something that to me doesn’t align with fasting. Now I am getting the notion that He needs to put right a thought process that has been looked at in an old traditional way but clothing and eating are two different things, right? So maybe this is about coverings? And since Jesus just got done telling them that the bridegroom is here now so why mourn it would also seem plausible to think that grace has arrived also. Maybe what Jesus is saying is it’s time for something new and a little bit of it just won’t do.
You see, “a person born into the family of God receives a new identity.” (Steve McVey) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus comes into our lives, just like being at Levi’s house for a meal, and through Him we can realize that what we are wearing as a covering for our everyday living isn’t gonna save us from the judgment. Even in Secularland people judge by appearance, just watch that “Fashion Police” show on E! and you’ll get the sense that when people don’t dress to impress they fall short of the glory of man. (like that has any merit) Jesus wants us to “put on” His identity knowing that The Father will be pleased by our appearance because all He will see is His Son.
And this won’t work if you are trying to put a piece of those things that are God honoring here and there…ya know in those spots that you think need God size patches. What Jesus wants us to do is to “take off” that old, raggedy flannel shirt we call ourselves, not to patch it up with a little grace here and little grace there. It won’t work. If you do so when it goes in the laundry (like a crucible) the sewn seams (like a vertical connection) will become undone. It may not be today but it will happen eventually. And when that happens you’ll be left with a flannel shirt that’s worth nothing (or like salt that loses its taste). Not only will people around you not benefit but you may grieve the very heart of God…maybe.
That’s why it is important to understand that coming to Jesus means you get to meet the new you. You won’t hunger for identity; you’ll have it in Christ Jesus. And the benefit package that comes with that is being called a saint (just like the Corinthians were called), being God’s work of art (written like a poem), being righteous and holy (something bringing comfort to your soul) and fully accepted by God Himself (based on who you now are not on what you’ve done). It doesn’t matter what those around would say, or better yet what the adversary would say or have you think. The bottom line to it all lies in this verse, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Amen? – Chris Hughes graduated from the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Think About This: “If Jesus is at the core of our existence that gives us an identity much greater than most Christians acknowledge.”—Steve McVey
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Psalm 78:72