Whose Clothes You Got On?


There is nothing on earth that does not show either the wretchedness of man or the mercy of God; either the weakness of man without God , or the strength of man with God.

Blaise Pascal
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.   Matthew 10:26-28  

There is a children’s story by Hans Christian Anderson titled “The Emperor’s New Clothes” that teaches lessons on vanity, truth and the pressure to conform.

In the story an Emperor is duped by a couple of shrewd characters and his own vanity into believing an invisible set of new clothes is the hottest fashion trend. Bearing it all, the Emperor parades his new fashion for all the kingdom to admire. The subjects of his kingdom loudly proclaim the beauty and majesty of the Emperor’s attire even when their eyes tell them he is naked. Neither his attendants nor his subjects dare to reveal the truth. None want to be considered ignorant, subject to ridicule or potentially suffer the wrath of the king. But one small child whispers the obvious “the Emperor has nothing on at all” which prompts the crowd to boldly proclaim the veracity of the naked parade. The Emperor’s eyes are now open but he continues on with the spectacle with even more pomp knowing the parade cannot stop for his pride must not suffer.

The same schism that afflicted the Emperor can overtake a nation, culture, people or even a church where truth is lost to a self-absorbed, vain reality. When a people vacate or pollute the truth and the principles God has commanded, the natural order of life becomes distorted. The book of Romans chapter 1 speaks about a society that “exchanges the truth for a lie” and how God ultimately gives them over to their own delusions and exposes the blindness of their pursuits.

We see a call to conform to new norms rolling across our nation. It is a call where historical virtues, morals and values that were once governed by Biblical truth are said to be irrelevant. This call is being echoed throughout academia, business and government. However, these new norms are based on a fluctuating, emotional rationale rather than enduring absolute truth and occasionally even science. Those advocating such values create their own subjective truth while living in their perceived reality and expecting others to affirm the clothes they bare at the expense of the real truth and the disintegration of a nation .

The need to conform to societal norms is extraordinarily powerful and exerts a strong pull on what people are willing to believe even when they know it to be untrue. The people of 1930’s Germany followed the lunacy of Adolf Hitler to their own destruction knowing the truth yet choosing to ignore it to conform to the delusion of the masses and the ideal of lies. A society must guard absolute truth and righteousness in order to be blessed by God and continue to thrive.

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  Hosea 4:6

In the verses from the Gospel Matthew, Jesus is encouraging His followers not to be afraid of speaking His truth. He acknowledges there will be a cost to proclaiming the truth when it shakes the foundation of the accepted cultural narrative. But there is a greater cost to living a lie than the death of the body. For the very soul of a person or a nation will wither and lose its identity when truth is forsaken. The absolute value of truth must overcome the transcendency of fear. It takes courage and faith in One greater than ourselves to proclaim it and even suffering for it if need be. Those who are Christ followers are called to be clothed in His truth and the guardians of it in the society which they live.

One day the King of Truth will come and He will reveal all things even the deep, hidden things. And the glory of His righteousness shall array us in the beauty of the garment of salvation.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.   Isaiah 61:10