Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
Have you ever been around someone who is starting a journey? Perhaps it’s a journey to lose weight, maybe a journey to stop smoking. Or maybe the goal is simply to live healthier all around. There is always the first phase of making the goal and getting excited to start. Then there is the second phase, or reality, as I call it, of actually going out and changing your habits to reflect your new journey. If you’re anything like me, the first phase always seems easier than the second.
I entered my college years on a journey of renewal. I was the “Christian kid” in my public high school, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell if you spent any time with me. My lips were filled with filthy language, my attitude with anger and rage, and my lifestyle was probably not too far away from that of the Colossians in some respects. Though I had set a goal to stop using filthy language and change my lifestyle, I was still in phase one of my journey. It was not easy for me to suddenly change my habits, and I slipped up numerous times. Still to this day, I am so thankful for my roommates my freshman year, who put up with me and really lived by Paul’s words. At times, I’m sure they were “bearing with” me as I learned what it meant to truly follow Christ, and I can’t imagine how much gentleness, patience, and compassion that took. I can never thank them enough for showing me Christ’s love, by daily clothing themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…and bearing with me as I entered stage two of my journey.
Here I am, almost nine years later, having finished Bible College and seminary, looking back on the progress I’ve made, knowing that I am, as my pastor would say, “radically flawed, and radically forgiven.” My college roommates demonstrated Christ’s love to me, and it’s that love that continually spurs me onward to daily replace my wardrobe; throwing out the old clothes of anger, bitterness, malice, slander, and filthy language, and replacing them with the new clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
As we approach Easter, remembering the humiliating death, and the glorious resurrection of Jesus, we can all be reminded that it is by his blood that we are made clean, dying to the old ways, and being resurrected with Christ in his new life. I’m convinced that we will never complete phase two of our journey until Christ’s glorious return, but through his death and resurrection, we are able to see who we were, and be reminded to daily replace our wardrobes. The journey never ends.
- Jake Houf