Does that sound like an odd question? After all, it’s not like asking, “What’s in style this year?” or “What are you wearing to the party Saturday night?” But it is perfectly valid, and most appropriate, for us to ask ourselves that very question every day. Why? Because at our baptism, while we circled the baptismal font, and for great feast days (when baptisms originally took place in the liturgy) this is sung:
As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Alleluia.
This is one of the oldest hymns of the Church, and comes directly from the New Testament. In St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he writes, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-27).
So what does it mean to “put on Christ?” At our baptism, we literally put on a white robe that stands for the purity and holiness that is of Christ. No spots, no stains, no tears or rips. That is the condition of our very being at that moment: without sin. And that is what Christ is eternally: the only sinless one. That is what we want to be by “wearing” Christ: sinless. It means we want to live our lives that way every day. Our very being, the way we choose to act each moment of our lives should show the world the presence of Christ. And that becomes even more important when we consider that most of us wear a cross (putting on the symbol of Christ’s followers) around our necks and make known to the rest of the world around us that we call ourselves “Christians.”
There is a story concerning Alexander the Great, who in the 4th century BC was the world’s greatest warrior and ruler. It seems that he heard about a soldier who called himself a follower of Alexander, wearing the armor of Alexander’s army, who was a pretty lousy soldier, who did whatever he wanted and refused to do what was asked and required of soldiers in Alexander’s army. Alexander sought him out, confronted him about what he had heard and very simply told the soldier, “Change your act or change your name!”
Wouldn’t this be equally appropriate for us and our relationship with Christ? If we have put on Christ, if we bear his name, and claim to be one of his followers, shouldn’t we act as he would want us to, or else change our names?
So what can we do concretely to show that we have put on Christ? For starters, we can be forgiven and restored to the purity of the day of our baptism by going to confession! Then we can participate in the life of the Church as we experience Christ in the liturgy. Accept God’s invitation to be with Him in His house and receive the food that gives eternal life and the strength to live a life that keeps that garment white: take communion OFTEN. (Let’s face it, if you only ate food once or twice a year, your body would die. If you only take communion once or twice a year, would it be surprising to think your soul is dying?) Find out who this Christ is that you have put on. That means reading the Bible. The more you know Him, the more you will love Him, and want to live as He wants us to live. And you will come to realize that no matter how many times we fall and get our garment dirty, He will be there to help us up and try again.
From Word Magazine
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America