Monday, January 23, 2012

The Emperor's New Clothes

Last week I rediscovered this satirical children's fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. " The Emperor's New Clothes" is about a king who has an unhealthy fascination with new clothes, so much so that he has a different change of clothes for every hour of the day. One day a couple of charlatan weavers appear before the emperor claiming that they are able to manufacture clothes of exquisite beauty and uncommon character. These clothes that they create have a special quality that makes the clothes invisible to anyone who is either corrupt in his character or unfit for his office. The emperor commissions these men to make him a set of these clothes at once, paying them large sums of money to do the work.

As the clothes are being created several servants are sent to check on the clothes to see how the progress is coming. Though none of the officials could see anything on the loom, they feigned as if the clothes were very beautiful and told the king so. Finally the day comes for the emperor to try on his new clothes that are to be worn in a big procession around his capital city. Though the king sees nothing, he is quite embarrassed to think that he may be corrupt in character or unworthy of his office. Thus, he too claims that the clothes are simply marvelous, and all of his attendants agree. The king sets off on his procession around the city with much fanfare to display his new clothes to the citizens of his kingdom. No one can see the clothes, of course, but everyone is too scared to admit the fact.

Finally a small boy in the crowd cries out, "Why the King has nothing on!" And the boy's father said simply, "The voice of innocence has spoken." The emperor, knowing what the boy said was true, decided to continue on with the procession. It was too late to turn back now!

This simple fairy tale teaches us an important lesson about fear and pride. In our own Christian lives we are often blind to our own shortcomings. And... our so called "friends" are often afraid to point them out to us. Even if we do get a hint that not all is well in our lives, our pride often keeps us from taking action to change.

As many of us talked about on Sunday at New Life Church, the call of the gospel is to "put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature" and to "cloth ourselves" with the character of Christ (Colossians 3:5&12). Would you be willing to look at yourself with soberness (Romans 12:3) confess your sin to God (1 John 1:8-9) and put on some new clothes (Colossians 3:12)? Would you be willing to help a friend do the same (Proverbs 27:6)?

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