Thursday, March 29, 2007

Emperor's New Clothes

"Imagine finding out that the one thing you have desperately attempted to keep veiled in secrecy was not actually veiled at all. The thought bears the unsettling sense of finding yourself unclothed before a crowded room. Would you feel foolish? Would you run and hide? Or would you insist the veil was still there? Andersen ends with a glimpse into the mind of the king: "[The words of the child] made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right. But he thought to himself regardless, 'Now I must bear up to the end.'" Idols are not easy to own up to; how much more so, when what we idolized was never even there.

I believe, however, that there can be another response--besides denial or shame--to the startling realization that we stand unveiled before family, friends, or God Himself. We can find ourselves enveloped in gratitude, clothed by meekness. The masks we were so certain were necessary, the act we put on to appease the crowd, the lies we told to protect ourselves were maybe not quite as necessary as we thought. Could you take off the costume you thought you were wearing if you realized you were only wearing it for yourself?

Perhaps Paul's instruction to "put off falsehood" is sometimes a call to "put off" what is not even there. The call of Christ is no different. He calls us unto himself and requires that we give him everything, but we must come without costume or pretense. We must come as much ready to be honest with ourselves as with him. In the journey through Lent, we walk again with Christ toward the Cross, and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus our eyes are opened. It is as if Jesus himself is a mirror and we are inspecting our new clothes. But he will take from our shoulders our robes of self-importance and false security. He will tear from our grasp our garments of self-pity and shame. Then he will clothe us with garments of salvation and array us in robes of righteousness, and he will remind us that we are his bride."
--Jill Carratini, RZIM

This is an excerpt from an RSS feed published by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. I love the simplicity and the challenge of Hans Christian Anderson's fable of the Emperor's New Clothes. The story has always amazed me-- what pride and arrogance wrapped around foolishness and self-doubt. Yet isn't that the very problem that faces every single one of us at some time or another. Vulnerability is a frightening state; yet it is a requirement if one is to receive the full benefit of Who God is.

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