Everyone has one…the sweater that hides in the back of the closet and lies in wait for another season to openly laugh at us for having saved it and even worn it. Why do we keep the darned thing? Is it to lovingly remind us of that person OR do we keep it to prove to the sweater giver that we would never part with it?
However, my ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ is an analogy of sorts. We keep something that is not of us or for us. Every Christian has someone that is just plain ugly with their spitefulness and ridicule. Even worse is the ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ who is a backslidden Christian that can’t get out of their own valley that they created themselves.
Ah, the valley….the deep part of the valley.
All families, especially Christian ones, have someone that almost seems to enjoy making everyone else miserable, mostly because they are miserable. I am no exception, we have them, too…..and they LOVE to flex during the Christmas season with guilt, shame, ridicule, mockery, contempt.
It’s time to take off the ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’.
I have chosen NOT to battle them. I think the battle gives them more strength to be antagonistic. Does not battling make it better or ‘digestible’? Not really, but I have my own relationship with the LORD that I protect with everything I’ve got.
The ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ is much like the past rearing it’s head to remind us of our weaknesses as Christians and what we will allow into our lives that can keep us in bondage to the ‘old man‘:
“v6…our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. v7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Romans 6:6-7
“v21…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: v22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Ephesians 4:21-22
Our ‘old man’, our sinful past, was covered with the blood of Christ when we were born again, “There is therefore NOW NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,” [Romans 8:1, emphasis MINE]. It should NEVER matter what our backslidden loved ones remember of our past sin:
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25
The valley is a lonely place. We don’t want our loved ones in the valley but God is God, I am not…He doesn’t like being ignored by puffed up backslidden Christians. He’ll take you where you do not want to go to get your attention.
Until the time comes when our backslidden loved ones gets their mind back, all we can do is take off the ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ and do what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount:
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44