The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
Have you ever noticed that in scripture, when someone is clothed or robed, it is with “majesty” or “dignity?” Jesus taught us to clothe the naked, so how do we “clothe someone with dignity?”
Have you ever noticed after walking into a gathering your mind starts summing up everyone and placing labels on them? “He’s awfully tall, she’s too thin, that one looks nervous, they’re too loud, she’s not participating in the right way, he should know better.” On and on our minds categorize people and put them in boxes: “safe,” “scary,” “good,” “bad,” “left,” “right,” “radical,” “conservative,” “looney,” “my candidate.” What are we doing when this is going in? We are clothing them. We are draping our judgements around their shoulders so that we don’t need to deal with who they really are. The problem is that I believe those judgements to be real and let them drive the way I deal with others when we interact. Judging each other and putting labels on them was not the clothing Jesus commanded us to clothe each other with.
So, to get back to my original question, how should we clothe each other? I would say that it means to hold everyone we meet, in the truest sense of the words, as a beloved child of God, a person of sacred worth and value. If I can move beyond my mind’s chatter to be fully present to someone as they are, a beloved child of God, I am clothing them with dignity. Jesus asks us to do this with not only with our family and friends, but with those who despise us. We are to do this for those whom we may wish to despise. We need to do this with the young, with the old, with the infirm, with the healthy, with the Jew, with the Samaritan, with those who love us, with those who revile us. Sometimes we need to do this in spite of their not believing it themselves. Some of us have been so beaten down, suffered so many trails and disasters, that we no longer believe themselves to be children of God. And yet that is a cornerstone of the teachings of Jesus. This is, for each and every one of us, our birthright.
My prayer for myself today is that I clothe everyone I meet in the robe of majesty they deserve as a child of God.
Talib Huff is a volunteer and presenter at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.