On New Year’s day, I went to see Spurs play Reading with a few friends. Following our obligatory pre-match fry-up, we headed to the shop hoping to pick up a possible bargain. Upon entering, we were greeted with the bargain to top all bargains – last season’s cup shirt going for £5 (they normally first retail at about £40!) And in my size.
I decided to put this £5 to immediate use by pulling the shirt over my jacket in readiness for the game.
After the game we headed back to central London, wearing my new shirt with glee having seen Spurs win 3-1. Upon arrival, we went for a burger and while waiting to be served, the man behind me, seeing that I was wearing a Spurs shirt, asked me what the score was.
Later, on the tube, another Spurs fan wearing a replica shirt was near us. After a slightly awkward five minutes of ‘should we ask or should we wait for him to ask?’ the inevitable happened and we discussed the game. At Paddington, two Italian workers at the baggage-holding place asked: “Did you go to the game? How did they get on?”
Before I headed on the train back home, I took off my new shirt. No further people asked me about the game.
There was nothing I was wearing that would draw the football fans in.
Because of one piece of clothing I was wearing, I spoke to a number of people I would likely have not spoken to. I then thought: wouldn’t it be great if people were drawn to me not because of the colour shirt I am wearing, but because I am clothed with Christ?
In Colossians 3:12, Paul writes: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Each morning, I put a fair amount of effort into deciding what clothes to wear. Is this jumper conducive to the weather? Does that t-shirt go with that pair of jeans? While there is a place for these decisions, their significance in our lives must never get in the way of being in a place where we can let our lives be clothed with Christ. It is a decision to be compassionate instead of apathetic, kind instead of unkind, humble instead of proud, gentle instead of insensitive, patient instead of impatient.
Are these qualities that we are seeking to cultivate? What is it that draws people to us today?
A few weeks back I had become preoccupied with my own frustrations to the extent that people around me told me I had become withdrawn and quiet. These comments were no surprise to me – I was feeling tetchy and could sense my company was not the most welcoming. It was the gentle rebuke I needed. I had removed the clothing of Christ and instead clothed myself with selfishness, impatience and an insensitivity to the needs of those around me.
I was in need of a change of clothes. I needed to come before Jesus in repentance and a renewed desire to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; to focus on others, not on self.
As Christians, we are called to be salt and light. That means making a difference, in such a way that people will look at us to see that we are clothed with heavenly robes. May we each be intentional in clothing ourselves with all that Jesus is and go out into the world with a determination to draw people in to the love of the saviour.
If we do so, it should be no surprise that people will be drawn to us, much like those football fans who caught sight of my Spurs shirt.
Image of Jan Vertonghen via tottenhamhotspur.com.