Imagine a church as a storefront with a huge window that boasts the most beautiful, amazing piece of clothing that was ever seen.
It’s flowing like a robe, but advertised as the one piece of clothing you will ever need. It fits every one who puts it on perfectly from head to toe. It moves with you, never impedes movement, never in your way, breathes, is always perfect for the climate you’re in–cool in summer, warm in winter, and more cozy and comfortable than your old faded cotton pajamas.
And the look of it–no one can describe it. But no one ever gets tired of looking at it. It looks soft and inviting, yet regal and stately. It shimmers and sparkles but is never gaudy or obtrusive, never shouts look at me! It always looks appropriate, never dowdy, and never embarrassing.
When you’re wearing it, people look at you; you see in their eyes You look terrific! They smile and say, “Love that outfit, you look so good in it.” as though you’ve never worn it before. EVERY time! In fact they look at you again and again as though they just can’t look at you enough. When they invite you anywhere, they say “Wear that robe thing.” They never get tired of seeing it.
People ask, “Where did you get that?”
And you always answer, “A friend gave it to me.”
“Really?” They ask. “How could I get one?”
“You just have to ask,” you say. “Just have to be his friend.”
“But can I buy one?”
“No,” you say.”He doesn’t sell them.”
“But surely for the right price…” they counter.
“They aren’t for sale.”
“Not even for a million dollars for one robe?”
“Not even a billion for one robe.”
They look at you like you’re crazy. So you say, “They are priceless. There isn’t enough money in the world to buy one.”
“But they’re a gift?” they are almost sarcastic now.
“Right” you respond.
“And I can get one? Is this guy like impossible to like or something, that he bribes people with these clothes?”
“No, he is actually the nicest, most caring, most helpful, most respectful, most encouraging friend I’ve ever had.”
“Ok, then what’s the catch? Nobody gives something of value for nothing.”
“I already told you, you have to let him be your friend, let him love you.”
“Ah, so that’s it. He wants to control you. Buy you with that robe, so he can own you and do whatever he wants with you or to you. Your his love slave.”
“No, it’s not like that. He really just wants you to be your best self. As I said, he wants to be your best friend. He wants to love you into your truest self. That’s why he gives you the robe. It makes you look your best, feel your best, do your best. It covers all the things you don’t like about you, all the scars you have. It makes you beautiful because he wants you beautiful and happy and free, strong and able to love.”
“Wow!” they say, heads shaking. “Wow! Tell me more about your friend.”
Is this overstating the graciousness of God? I don’t think so. This is how I see it–how I see Him and His gift of identity.
I haven’t fully experienced it yet, but I’m aware of it more and more.