Holy: A Robe and a Crown

Holy: A Robe and a Crown

Holy: A Robe and a Crown.

HOLY: Set apart for special use; assigned to a godly purpose;  sanctified; consecrated; designated for a sacred function; separated from that which is ignoble or dishonorable.

Holiness has a uniform. To be holy is to wear a redeemed wardrobe. Isaiah talks about putting on garments of splendor (Is. 52:1). The psalmist refers to being clothed with godliness (Ps. 132:16). Job claims that he has put on righteousness and it clothed him, wearing justice like a robe (Job 29:14). Isaiah once again said that God dressed him with the clothing of salvation, and draped him in a robe of righteousness (Is. 61:10).

The New Testament time and again discusses putting on Christ, wearing Jesus. (Galatians 3:27; Romans 13:14). Paul also describes this aspect of holiness as taking off and putting on… take off the Old You, put on the New You. “Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy (Ephes. 4:22-24). “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12). So being holy means we pick out a new wardrobe. When we wear Christ, we have a new personal identity, a new style, a different look. When we put on Jesus, we empty the clothes closet of our old clothes, and replace them with a new set of spiritual threads. We accept advice from our new wardrobe consultant, our new fashion designer, the Lord Jesus.

We choose a wardrobe, not a costume. A costume is something we wear when we want to play a part, as if we were in some religious play. A costume is put on for appearance’s sake, something we put on and take off depending on the performance. Costumes don’t reflect the person behind the appearance. Costumes don’t reflect the inner person behind the costume. Our new clothing line is intended to reflect our new identity in Christ, God’s character and nature. At the same time, while wearing the character of God, His Spirit is transforming us within. The outer behavior grows in synch with the inner heart of faith. “ So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (Col. 3:15-17, MSG).

Some of us, probably all of us, might be feeling guilty as we consider what the holy life looks like. Being human, perhaps we have more weak moments than we are comfortable with. Perhaps we haven’t lived a particularly good life, no less a holy life set apart for sacred purposes. Please consider the story of the Prodigal Son… What’s the first thing the waiting Father shouts out to His servants when His long-lost child has returned? “Find the best robe and put it on him!” (Luke 15:22). That important robe covers his destitute nakedness. That robe shows family origins in the Father’s house. It’s a holy robe. It is the robe of Christ, of forgiveness and grace and new life with the Father. The Father’s robe is a sign of holiness that we all put on when we approach the Father in brokenness and humility. His robe  is a holy robe. It’s a part of our new wardrobe. We are all invited to put on the Father’s robe and clothe ourselves in Christ.

One important part of our new wardrobe is the everyday crown we are asked to put on. This crown always fits perfectly, it is made of spiritual gold, and over the forehead is inscribed, “Holiness to the Lord.” (Exodus 28:29). In the Hebrew Bible, the priest was a living reminder that God is holy, and that He is calling His people to be holy as well. God wants to produce holiness in our lives. We believers are expected to wear an everyday crown as a vital part of our new wardrobe. This crown signifies our role as priests, holy to the Lord. We are called to be holy, because God is holy. (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Believers are priests? We wear priestly garments, we put on a priestly crown? It is well recorded in Scripture that God has called us to be a kingdom of priests and a holy priesthood (Ex. 19:6; Is. 61:6; 1 Peter 2:5). These scriptures and more claim that each believer, each man, woman, boy and girl, is a priest, set apart for His service, assigned to a sacred life. Being a priest means we represent God to the people; we intercede for the people to God; we offer ourselves a holy, living sacrifice; we develop a lifestyle of blessing people. Each believer dedicated to God is holy, a priest, a saint, and with God’s strength wants to be dressed for the occasion.

Holiness has earned a bad reputation. The image problem regarding holiness is well-deserved, since there are so many counterfeits: holier-than-thou and self-righteous; only suitable for the super-Christian, the pious saint, and the truly “spiritual;” the holy roller who doesn’t know how to have fun; domesticated, tamed, and bland; kill-joys who heap guilt on others who aren’t “perfect.” With impressions like these, who in their right mind would want to be holy? Who would want to join the priesthood of all believers?

Compare the common impressions of holiness above with what Eugen Peterson says in his book, The Jesus Way“Holiness is wild and undomesticated. Holiness is an interior fire, a passion for living for God, a capacity for exuberance in living out the life of God in the details of our day-to-day lives. Holy is not a word that drains the blood out of life. It’s a word that gets our blood pumping, pulsing life through our veins and putting color in our cheeks.” How can we recover this image of holiness? Is there a way we can develop a redeemed vision of holiness? How can we live in such a way as to make holiness popular, make it attractive and inviting?

Wearing a robe and a crown now is just a foretaste of what awaits us in the New Jerusalem. In heaven we will be given a clean robe to wear to the Wedding Banquet. And we will be awarded the crown of eternal life. Our everyday crown in heaven will be a victor’s crown, winning the race of faith here on  earth, and it will be a crown of righteousness, believers purified by the power of Jesus’ blood. We shall wear a robe and crown, now in the Spirit, and literally in glory land.

“All of us, if we only knew it, are on a hunt for the holy, for a life that cannot be reduced to the way we look or what we do or what others think of us. We are after something – more life than we get simply by eating three meals a day, getting a little exercise, and having a decent job. We’re after the God-originated and God-shaped life – a holy life.” (Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way).

LYRICS to gospel song, “I shall wear a crown”  (composed by Dr. Richard Smallwood)

Watch ye, therefore, you know not the day, when the Lord shall call your soul away.

If you labor, strivin’ for the right, you shall wear a robe and a crown.

I shall wear a crown, I shall wear a crown,

when the trumpet sounds, when the trumpet sounds,

Oh I shall wear a crown, I shall wear a crown,

I shall wear a robe and a crown.

Soon as my feet strike Zion, lay down my heavy burden,

put on my robe in glory, shout and tell Him my story,

Soon as I can see Jesus, tell Him all about my trouble,

Put on my robe in glory, shout and tell Him my story,

I shall wear a robe and a crown.