Carlynne frowned in confusion. It didn’t make sense. Why would they want to wear coats on this warm, beautiful day? Maybe she could ask them. She walked towards them until she could hear their conversation. They were admiring each other’s coats while at the same time describing what they loved best about their own. Carlynne looked down at her own body. She wasn’t wearing a coat. She used to have a coat, but had gotten rid of it a long time ago when she discovered she didn’t need it anymore. The sunshine itself was all she needed to stay warm. Yet here was a group of people who not only wore coats, but delighted in wearing them.
“Hi,” she called out to them. “I noticed you are all wearing coats.”
“Aren’t they beautiful?” a short woman answered.
“Yes, they do look good, but…”
“I just love how they make me feel,” a taller woman said.
“I can see that. But…”
“I feel so special when I’m wearing mine,” an older lady interrupted.
“I can see that. But don’t you feel a bit… bound… in them?”
“Bound?” a large man asked. “What do you mean?”
“Well, your coats are kind of thick. I would think that would make it harder for you to move as freely as you could if you weren’t wearing them.”
“I can move just fine,” answered the man.
“Well,” a young woman said slowly as she stretched her arms out in front of her. “Now that you mention it, it does kind of restrict my arms.”
Several other people nodded as they stretched their arms, but stopped when they noticed some of the others in the group were shaking their heads at them. “It’s worth the sacrifice,” they were told.
Carlynne said, “You do know you can take off your coat, right?”
“Take it off?” the tall woman gulped, clutching her coat tightly to herself. “I wouldn’t dream of taking mine off.”
There were a variety of assenting sounds, and Carlynne noticed they were all now holding tightly on to their coats.
But aren’t you hot in them? The sun is…”
“It kept me warm when I needed it,” interrupted another man. “If I took it off, I would be cold and vulnerable.”
“But the sun…”
“My coat is what keeps me warm,” interrupted the older lady.
“But I’m not wearing…”
“My coat is the most important thing in the world to me,” interrupted the shorter woman.
Tired of being interrupted, Carlynne gave up. Walking away from them, rejoicing in the freedom she had being coatless – feeling the warmth of the glorious sun directly on her skin – she wondered if any of them had noticed that she wasn’t wearing one. Maybe one day, they would. Then maybe they would be open to hearing why. And maybe, when they understood the sun better, they would find that that they no longer needed their coats either.
Religion: noun. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices (Merriam-Webster)
Carlynne – “she who has freedom”
Psalm 84: 11 For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Philippinas 3:1-11 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh – though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Col 2:6-23 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority, in him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us, with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – “Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch.” (referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.