Rags to Robes

“Because of Christ we are thought of as fools, but Christ has made you wise. We are weak and hated, but you are powerful and respected. Even today we go hungry and thirsty and don’t have anything to wear except rags. We are mistreated and don’t have a place to live. We work hard with our own hands, and when people abuse us, we wish them well. When we suffer, we are patient. When someone curses us, we answer with kind words. Until now we are thought of as nothing more than the trash and garbage of this world.” 1 Corinthians 4:10-13

So, are God’s people to wear rags? Or should they be dressed well like Solomon or the woman in Proverbs 31? Or is that even the right question?

We need to get a handle on the biblical pattern. It is nakedness to glorious robes, childhood to maturity. From later patterns, I believe Adam and Eve would have received glorious robes if they had obeyed (Noah, Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai are some examples that spring to mind). If we are faithful, the robe of rule is GIVEN to us. Paul was writing to the Corinthians as children.

“What is so special about you? What do you have that you were not given? And if it was given to you, how can you brag? Are you already satisfied? Are you now rich? Have you become kings while we are still nobodies? I wish you were kings. Then we could have a share in your kingdom. It seems to me that God has put us apostles in the worst possible place. We are like prisoners on their way to death. Angels and the people of this world just laugh at us.” 1 Corinthians 4:7-9

Israel became a corrupt woman in her glorious robe, so God sent “naked” prophets to warn her. They began a new “poor” kingdom “outside the city” corrupted by the riches received from God. But the plan is always to glorify the new kingdom. The new worship founded under Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra and Nehemiah was glorified in Esther.

Paul, like John the baptist, was one such pioneer. The nakedness is never permanent, and the church will be eventually, rightfully “clothed.”

If the church is rich on the outside but inwardly naked, immature (like Laodicea), God will deal with it. But the aim is to be clothed both inwardly and outwardly, consistently glorious.

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