If love were an article of clothing, what would it be? If you think about the clothes in your closet, which piece would represent love to you? Is it something soft and fuzzy, like a warm sweater? Would it be some pastel color?
This time of year, love is a sweet baby snuggled in a blanket, lying in a manger. It’s fireplaces and sappy music about being home for the holidays.
Perhaps we sometimes confuse sentimentality with love. To me, love is my hiking boots — 15 years old, lug-soled Vibram, solid leather, with Gore-Tex lining. Rugged. Utilitarian. They are not pretty, but they are sturdy and reliable. Maybe that’s love — something we put on when the weather turns nasty and the path grows steep.
This time of year, love is a Father sending his only son into a fierce and fatal battle. It’s a couple with a newborn running for their lives from the harsh hand of Herod who spattered the nurseries of Bethlehem with the blood of innocents. This time of year, love better be rugged.
So, which is it? Is love soft and warm? Or, strong and rugged? Maybe the correct answer is, “Yes.” And many shades between.
The apostle Paul compared living the Christian life to getting dressed. The wardrobe consists of characteristics that define what it means to follow Jesus.
“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” Paul wrote. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
And, then he added the final layer, the piece that ties it all together.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3: 12-14).
What will that love look like today in your life? It’s versatile. It comes in many colors and styles. Sometimes it speaks soothing words; sometimes it chastises. At times love gives; sometimes it denies. It may be a mother snuggling with her sweet baby. Or, it may be pounding nails on the roof of a neighbor in need.
Pause for a moment. Think about how you are wearing love today. Make sure you’ve got it on. Now, take a little time to notice how others around you are wearing theirs. It may be a different style or color, but it’s there if you look.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.