All of us wear a lot of “hats” in this lifetime. Hats are a good metaphor for our various roles because most are easily exchanged for another. All of us are many things to different people.
There is one hat, however, that Christians should wear all the time.
The apostle Paul told us, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). The love of Christ should be the first impression we make as we enter a room.
An iconic hat
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is my favorite movie in the series. Sean Connery plays Indiana’s dad. During one classic scene, the audience grew quiet when it looked like Indiana Jones had just gone over a cliff in a Nazi tank as he fought to protect his dad. A few moments later, Indiana Jones surprises his grieving dad and is wrapped up in a big hug.
But, the best moment of that scene occurs when a gust of wind blows the famous suede hat over to Indie’s feet. When he put that hat on his head, the audience cheered.
Who is Indiana Jones without that hat?
But, let’s be honest. If you or I had the chance to wear Indiana Jones’ iconic hat, would we? We love seeing it as a prop on the big screen, but would we want to wear it on our heads?
In reality, that hat would be filthy dirty and stink like yesterday’s raw chicken left in the warm trash.
We wear a lot of hats in our lifetime, but some of our hats are more of a prop too. We occasionally wear a hat to cover our heads, not crown them.
A crown on dirty hair
It’s hard to imagine a king or queen showing up to their coronation with dirty hair. Yet, our hats are worn today to serve that purpose. When we have to run an errand or jump on a Zoom meeting, we just cover the “bad hair” with a cap.
We often try to do the same thing with our witness.
We hope our words will speak louder than our works, but that’s like wearing a crown with dirty hair. Scripture teaches that we should clean up our lives in order to share our witness. God’s truth is a crown, not a cap.
Grow food, not weeds
People in the first century didn’t plant gardens as a hobby; they grew food in order to survive. Jesus used a parable to illustrate that, in order for our Christian witness to thrive, the first thing we need to do is treat sin like unwanted weeds that need to be pulled out of the garden (Matthew 13:24–30).
The first-century Christians planted gardens so they and their families could survive the winter months. Weeds weren’t just annoyances; they were a threat. And Paul said we should think of our sin natures like they did their weeds.
We shouldn’t serve cake on a dirty plate
Have the biblical lessons lost some power in our culture today? Americans have grocery stores. Our gardens are more often a hobby than our hope. What illustration would Jesus have used if he were teaching about our witness today?
Would Jesus or Paul say: Treat sin like a virus? Treat sin like a poison? Treat sin like a cancer? Treat sin like a smelly hat?
Their point would be the same. We need to get rid of anything that harms our witness and do whatever it takes to separate it from our lives. After that, we can “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).
If Paul were writing today, he might have written, “Don’t put your muddy feet into your new shoes.” Or “Don’t put the velvet dress over the sweaty tracksuit.” Or maybe “Don’t cook today’s meal in yesterday’s unwashed, germ-filled pan.” Paul might just be blunt and say, “Even a beautiful cake looks inedible when it’s served on yesterday’s unwashed plate.”
The world won’t notice or appreciate the love of Christ until Christians pull the weeds out of our witness.
The world won’t consume our words unless we serve them on a clean plate.
Put on love, but put it on clean hair
Love will be our theme for the February blog posts, but it should also be the theme of our lives. We don’t think of Indiana Jones without his iconic hat. A Christian should be known by their crown, reminding people we are the adopted child of a King.
Maybe the first thing we should consider, however, is how we present our love of Christ to others. If our faith is our crown, the role people most associate with who we are, shouldn’t we be sure we aren’t using that crown over dirty hair?
If faith is to produce the spiritual fruit of our lives, shouldn’t we make certain the weeds aren’t taking over the garden?
Gossip said it well
Imagine being a preacher with the last name of Gossip!
Arthur John Gossip held the title of Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, and he was licensed as a minister of the church in Scotland in 1898.
When I found one of his quotes, I had to look him up. I could tell by the language the words were “old,” but the message seemed so new. I want to close this blog post with Gossip’s words from a century ago that speak to our subject today.
Arthur John Gossip said, “At the very moment when the pulpit has fallen strangely silent about sin, fiction can talk of little except evil, not indeed viewed as sin, but apparently as the invariable ways of a peculiarly repulsive insect, which it can’t help, poor thing; and there is no manner of use expecting anything from it, except the nastiness natural to it.”
That quote takes a couple of reads to even begin the process of thinking about it. His words are even more powerful when we realize we are reading them almost one century after they were written.
What would Gossip say about our view of sin today?
Put on love—but consider it a crown
How do we “put on” our Christian love? Is it a crown or a cap? Is it used to say who we are or to cover up what we don’t want others to see? Those are the first questions we need to address if we truly want to live as a witness for Christ.
According to Jesus, we shouldn’t try to “put on love” until we pull out the weeds. According to Gossip, we shouldn’t view sin like a bug we just can’t get rid of. According to me, we can’t wear a smelly hat as a prop, even if it’s a popular prop worn by a movie hero.
What do we need to weed out of our witness so people can see the love of Christ as more than a hat we wear over our dirty hair?
We are children of the King.
We should choose to wear our crowns.
But, let’s make sure we are wearing those crowns over clean hair.