By Ben Johnson
The hardest thing to throw away are old, comfortable t-shirts. Sure, they may have some holes and are tearing at multiple seams, but there is no better thing to wear than a worn-in tee. Old shirts are cozy, familiar, and make me feel calm and relaxed. It’s hard to throw that away when new shirts are stiff and itchy, even if the shirts really need to be discarded.
Old sins are the same way: they are comfortable, they fit well, and they’re easy to slip into. Holy habits are hard to form. They’re stiff, itchy, and don’t form to me well. I’m not naturally inclined to do them, which is why I needed the Holy Spirit to change my heart before I can fit into them. However, that still doesn’t stop me from slipping into something more comfortable from time to time.
I know my old sin habits. They are comfortable to me, and even though I know I need to toss them away I also know what to expect with them. Putting on holiness is full of unknowns because that means I must act contrary to my natural, sinful self. Embracing holiness means letting others into my life, giving them access to my flaws and failures as they let me see theirs. It connects my life to something outside myself, which means relinquishing some control of my life to others.
I hate not having control. I hate putting my trust in others because I know they are going to let me down; I just don’t know when or how. It’s a ticking bomb of disappointment, and I’m waiting on the “boom.”
Yet, God has called Christians to weather the explosion. He has called me to walk through the flame and live my life in the service of others. He has commanded me to cast off my selfishness, anger, and isolation and embrace His people in gentleness, compassion, and love.
So, I embrace my stiff and itchy shirt. I put on the holiness of Christ that was bought for me. It is ill-fitting and uncomfortable, but it is also beautiful and making me new. It is pointing me to something bigger than myself and stretching me to become more righteous. It is not comfortable, but it is right, and as I live each day walking in Christ’s steps it becomes more and more natural. One day, I will be made completely new, and I will wear Christ’s righteousness in absolute comfort.
Ben Johnson is a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary pursuing an MA in theology with a concentration in Church Planting. He is originally from Huntsville, AL, and is a graduate of Samford University. He and his wife reside in Greenville, SC.