As a child I saw the play, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen. At the moment the emperor paraded his new clothes through town the children in the audience cried out, “He has no clothes on!” Just like the child in the story, the youngest saw the truth while the older ones wanted to pretend.
When Jesus said let the little children come to me (Matthew 19:14) and that we must have faith like a child, it was in part due to their ability to see things simply and have faith honestly. They didn’t try to impress those around them. It was pure, it was honest, and it was the way Jesus encouraged us to be in our Faith and in our interaction with Him. When we come to that place in our lives, when we understand that what Jesus did for us, we could not and cannot do for ourselves. At that place, we will have the choice to embrace the grace He offers or spurn it and walk away empty-handed, empty-hearted.
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the opportunity to exchange the filthy rags we’ve been wearing, the imaginary emperor’s clothes, and put on the robes of righteousness He offers to us. We have been trying to fool those around us with our rags. We may put on designer labels, tell others we bought them at the high-end boutique, but God knows the truth. He knows we are standing naked, like the emperor. He knows we are just wearing rags that are dirty and torn from the heartache, troubles, and strife we have faced. He knows the truth.
He knows the truth, but He doesn’t scold. Instead, God holds out His hand to us. Like a father with real pearls in His hands, He asks us to hand him our costume pearls. It’s up to us to release the lie and embrace the truth. The decision is always ours. The robes of righteousness are not self-righteousness, instead they are robes of holiness, purity, and truth. They represent the new life we have in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
O Best Beloved, what is keeping you from exchanging your rags for robes? Are you afraid others will mock you? That you will have to confess you cannot become righteous on your own? I recognize those concerns, so does God. Are those moments worth turning away from the opportunity to be restored? To receive healing in those broken places, the ones you thought you had hidden so well?
Don’t fool yourself, God is not fooled. He knows your heartache, your pain, your doubts and fears. He knows them and is not afraid of them. He wants to help you, hold you, encourage and comfort you. But God is also a gentleman. He will not force Himself into where He is not invited. He stands on the sidelines, waiting to come and cover you and your nakedness. To clothe you in His pure, clean, amazing righteousness. It is up to you, will you allow Him to cover you?
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6).
But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God (John 3:21).