Years ago in Skipton, a town in Northern England, a prominent man in the community was baptized. A wealthy man, known for his lavish lifestyle and upper-crust status, he had previously shown no interest in Jesus or the church. But one day, someone invited him to a Bible study, and to everyone's surprise, he started attending.
Soon, he came to understand who Jesus was and why He came and died on the cross. Consequently, he surrendered his life to Jesus and asked to be baptized.
On the night of his baptism, he appeared quite dramatically in contrast to the others who came to be baptized. Most were wearing jeans or shorts and a T-shirt. A few wore baptismal gowns. When he arrived, he wore an immaculate three-piece navy suit, with a vest and silk tie. People remarked that he looked to be dressed for an important business meeting in downtown London.
In his testimony prior to his baptism, he explained he had come to recognize that his suit and tie and the quality of his shoes represented all he’d once held dear and built his life upon—everything that gave him status and significance when he walked into a business meeting. “I’ve decided to be baptized in all this clobber” (British for extravagant clothes), he said, “so that I might remind myself forever more that Jesus now has all of me.”
We make following Jesus much too complicated, friends. We dress it up in order to impress ourselves and others, but God isn’t impressed at all! As the prophet Isaiah wrote, We’re all sin-infected, sin-contaminated. Our best efforts are grease-stained rags. We dry up like autumn leaves— sin-dried, we’re blown off by the wind (MSG).
The next time you get all dolled up to go out and impress somebody, remember Isaiah’s words, “grease-stained rags.” Then have a good laugh and relax. Oh, and along the way, show people your true self, not your false self—your heart, not your money or status.