Living in a world of ‘fast fashion’, we can easily adorn ourselves with cheap slogans and dispense of the things that really matter, without even noticing.
It seems an increasingly trendier notion to talk about sustainability, as we realise, perhaps a little too late, the full impact that our consumer choices have had on our world. Whilst we should be concerned about what is happening to creation and our stewardship of it, this whole subject has caused me to reflect again on what really fashions us, whilst we live in the tension of wanting to live whole, free and transformed by Jesus.
The life that we are called to in Christ (John 15:4; Ephesians 1:11) is one of submission to His forming and surrender to His transforming power through every fibre of our being. I wonder though, if the gravitas of this call is something we have really considered? If indeed we have, is it at times too painful for us to travel to the depths of our souls that Jesus desires to search and know (Psalm 139:23)?
Is it our awareness, that the God who formed us and knows us inside and out, that evokes our shame and widens our disconnection from Him? It is this line of tension we find ourselves walking along, as we seek to straddle culture and Christendom. We are itching to be whole but hate the idea of being seen and really known. We fear that our brokenness is repulsive, rather than the most perfect state in which we are accepted by God and willed to come closer to the one who has ‘made and fashioned us’ (Psalm 119:73).
There are three areas to consider as we answer the question ‘what fashions us?’, which are:
ORIGIN – Where we come from
CULTURE – What shapes us
DESTINY – What’s it for?
1. ORIGIN: where we come from
Essentially, we know that we come from God, fashioned and formed by His hand. We could quote Scripture to that affect, but do we really believe it? Are we truly secure in the truth that God made us? Our creation and formation are bespoke. We are each individually crafted for a unique purpose. Our origin comes from that most intimate place, considered and inspired by God. God is the designer that trumps all other designers. Talented couture designers such as McQueen, Dior and McCartney do not have the same creative innovation that
Couture they may be, but divine they
David writes in Psalm 139, verse 13:
For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
The use of the word ‘knit’ isn’t an accident. It speaks brilliantly of our fashioning. Loop by loop, stitch by stitch, we were knitted together in our mother’s womb.
When you knit, you are required to follow a pattern, to make a garment that is fit for purpose and responsive to motion. We were knitted together in order that we would be responsive; able to stretch and be elastic for the one who determines our function and purpose. We aren’t a tough old bit of leather or a robust upholstery fabric, we are knitted – allowing us to stretch and adapt to whatever direction God takes us. Our shape and our pattern have been considered and designed, and here we stand today as a fulfilment of God’s labour of love and commitment to His creative project.
We are specifically designed, at a suitable standard, so we are able to submit to God’s shifting and stirring.
Our origin isn’t an accident. It was intentional. Whether we were wanted or not, God wanted us. Whether we are the product of a one-night stand, a rape, or a loving relationship, God wanted us and intended us to be here. To be part of His story, right here, right now.
We are not products of our circumstances; we were handmade and handpicked by
In Genesis 2:25 we learn what was intended when we were created by God:
“The two of them, the man and his wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.”
They. Felt. No. Shame.
It was because of their lack of shame and insecurity in their nakedness that Adam and Eve were able to communion with God and it is this same sense of freedom which enables us to have connectedness with God. It is this sense of being ‘laid bare’ (Hebrews 4:13) that God intended when He designed us with a plan and purpose in mind.
2. CULTURE: what shapes us
We live, however, in a time where shame is rife. It’s the common currency. We are a people living life utterly detached from our divine intention – to live free and to live loved. The shame that has befallen us has left us crippled, unable to believe that who we really are is enough.
This culture of shame has fashioned us more readily than we can bear and in ways that we do not feel able to reconcile with God or ourselves. Shame has made us craft clothes from fig leaves, in a desperate attempt to conceal our nakedness. Yet the fig leaves are not sufficient to do so. They are unable to cover us properly (Isaiah 28:20), nor our sin and our shame. Only love can do that
(1 Peter 4:8).
In Genesis 3:21 we read:
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and
Our wholeness is not the product of perfection, it is the result of redemption.
God invites us to take part in a glorious exchange. It is now we see that we are able to swap our fig leaves for something that will actually cover us – garments crafted from atonement. A sacrifice was made; blood was shed, so that we could be properly dressed. When we are properly dressed; when we are covered in love, we walk differently. We become increasingly free and more willing to live surrendered to the One who sees us in our brokenness and loves us all the same.
We can now live stripped of all that hinders us (Hebrews 12:2), wearing a whole new wardrobe fashioned by Him for our greater sense of purpose, and discover our destiny.
3. DESTINY: what’s it for?
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
We are fashioned by God for purpose and He uses origin, culture and destiny to form us, yet we know that there is no quick fix for being transformed. Whilst origin, culture and destiny are indeed formational, they don’t always afford us results in the time that we might prefer. We are naturally impetuous and impatient, looking for the next ‘fix’ and chucking out the things that do not seem relevant anymore. We are slow to yield to God’s tender hand that gently removes the parts of us that do not look like Him. Often, we are distracted from keeping our eyes on Him, as we keep looking over our shoulder wondering if any earthly distraction will dare to attempt to prove its worth in the face of such holiness.
Christlikeness can’t be airdropped. Holiness is not available on Prime. Formation takes time.
The verse from Ephesians reminds us that God sees the bigger picture. He sees our potential, our promise and our purpose. He longs for us to fulfil it, so He lovingly tends to us and cuts off anything that doesn’t bear fruit (John 15:2). His vow to us is that He will do ‘far more abundantly than all we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20).
And it is through this tending and cutting off, in the context of abundance, that God carefully re-fashions us. It isn’t down to us to do the work of salvation again and again, God has already done that, but it is up to us to accept the challenge to live differently tomorrow in light of what God has done today. It is up to us to put on the ‘new self’ and “regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it”
Paul is unrelenting in his bid to the church in Colossae and the same invitation is extended to us.
So, out with the old and in with the new! Here’s to a life formed and fashioned by God, step by step, moment by moment. ‘May God Himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If He said it, He’ll do it!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24).