Back when I was a kid, I remember the unique thrill of getting a new pair of white sneakers. (Yeah, it is kind of sad, isn’t it?) There was just something about their “unstained perfection” that made me feel like I looked cooler and could run faster; and as a result, for the first couple weeks of wearing them (or until I dropped something on them or got caught in the rain – whichever came first) I would do everything in my power to keep them pristine.
In the epistle lesson from today’s Daily Office, the Apostle Paul suggests that we’ve been given something infinitely more precious than a new pair of speakers. “You have taken off your old self,” he says, “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:9-10) Therefore, he urges, we should do everything in our power to keep that new self pristine. We should “set our hearts on things above” (3:1) and “put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature” (3:5) and “rid ourselves of anger, rage and malice” (3:8).
What attitudes, habits and actions threaten to stain our new self today? And what could we do (what must we do) in order to keep them pristine?
Eventually, of course, my new sneakers stopped being new. They got scuffed and dirty, and I stopped caring what they looked like. I wonder if something similar happens with our new self. We get a few bumps and bruises – a few unintended stains – and we stop caring. “What’s the point?” we ask ourselves. “I’m marred and broken now. Why even try to pretend that I can be like new?”
But that’s why we mustn’t miss the promise of this passage. When we place our faith in Christ, Paul says, we die to our old selves and are raised to new life. Therefore, he tells us, “your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (3:3-4)
Ultimately, our newness doesn’t depend on us. It depends on the grace of Him who makes us new. And training ourselves to trust in that grace – and to be grateful for that grace – will probably do a whole lot more to protect the purity of our character than trying to “avoid pollution” ever could.
So let’s seek purity today. But even more, let’s celebrate the goodness of the One who makes us pure. He call us into the world—where there are mud puddles and potential scuff-marks, to be sure—but where His holiness is more than enough to make and keep us new. So let’s run after Him…and “Just Do It!”