Naked Truth

In one of my earlier sermons I referenced a story that Max Lucado used to illustrate the way that Jesus disarmed the world with His genuine love and truth. A man whose truth played by no one’s rules – that it’s Jesus or nothing, and to follow Him means we have to drop our acts and chase after Him. The story describes a man named Bob in a land of many coats. Here’s how the story goes:

This is the story of Bob, who was born into the land of coats. His mother loved the color blue and made Bob’s first cost a lovely shade of blue. Every time she noticed her son in his lovely blue coat, she cheered, “Yes, Bob!” He felt good in his blue coat, but Bob had to grow up and go to work. So he put on his best blue coat and slipped out of the house, going to his new job. The people on the street saw him and began to yell, “Yuk, Yuk!” Their coats were yellow and they hated blue.

Into a store ducked Bob and bought a yellow coat, put it over his blue coat and continued on his way to work. The people cheered, “Yea! Bob!” Bob felt good in his yellow coat over his blue coat. He stepped into his bosses office to get his assignment for that first day. He sat waiting for this boss, who came in, looked at him and yelled, “Yuk!” Bob jumped up, took off the yellow coat and stood waiting for approval in his blue coat. The boss yelled, “Double Yuk! Bob. Here at work we wear green coats!” With that, Bob slipped back on the yellow coat, over the blue coat and put the green coat on top. “Yea! Bob!” said the boss. As he left for work, Bob felt good.

After work, Bob slipped off the green coat, put it under the yellow coat and walked proudly home. He opened the door, went inside, as his mother looked at him with a “Yuk” on her lips. Bob quickly changed coats, putting the lovely blue one on top. Mom whispered, “Yea! Bob!”

Bob got so good at changing coats until he became a popular man around town. He changed coats so swiftly until he had folks fooled into believing that whatever coat they had on, he had it on too. Bob loved hearing the crowd say, “Yea! Bob!” He couldn’t stand hearing “Yuk” Bob was elected mayor of the Town of Coats and had a faithful constituency. One day he heard a noise outside of his window and then heard a pounding on his door. The Yellow Coats brought in a man wearing no coat. “Kill him,” they cried, “he doesn’t fit in!” In his yellow coat, Bob said, “Leave him to me.”

“Man, where is your coat?” he asked. The man said, “I wear no coat.” Bob replied, “Everybody wears a coat. What color do you choose?” The man responded the second time, “I wear no coat.” By then the Green Coats had gathered under Bob’s window. Running to the window, his green coat on top, Bob yelled down to them, “I have it under control.” The Green Coats shouted, “Kill him!” At this time his mother entered into the room, and Bob slipped his blue coat on top. “Bob, where is his blue coat?” Mother asked, The Man replied, “I don’t wear a coat.” “Kill him,” said Mother as she left Bob and the man alone.

“Man,” said Bob, “you have to wear a coat or they are going to kill you.” “Bob,” said the man, “you need to decide to stop wearing your different coats. Take them off, take them all off and let the world see who you truly are.” “Take them off? Take them all off?” asked an incredulous Bob. The man said again, “Bob, you have to make a choice.” As the crowd kept crying, “Kill him!” Bob washed his hands, opened the door and marched the man toward sure death. The man looked at Bob, with one final word, “Choose.” Bob was left alone with his three coats and the questions ringing in his mind, “Take them off? Take them all off?”

This story is so simple – a man learns how to put the right coat on at the right time so that he fits in and excels in life. And yet it conveys such a powerful and profound truth – the truth that you and I, in some form or fashion, are “Bob.”

We want to fit in. We crave acceptance and success. The problem is that this can come at the cost of spiritual conviction. It’s a lot easier to bend the truth and attach it to your own agenda than it is to submit and surrender entirely to an absolute truth.

You might remember that Jesus had been arrested in the garden of Gethsemane and had been interrogated and beaten by the religious leaders. Pilate, the Roman governor, wants to help Jesus but cannot risk supporting everything that Jesus stands for. One of the most tense and climactic moments in this section is when Jesus tells Pilate, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” And Pilate responds, “What is truth?”

What is truth?

It’s a question we all have to wrestle with. Because like Bob, we have our different coats. Different allegiances for different people. Different ways to behave and truths to operate with.

But Jesus makes it clear – everyone on the side of truth listens to Him. Do you trust Jesus and His Word implicitly? Do you read Scripture and hang on every word, as if it were life and death? Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

In other words, God’s Word cuts through all our junk. God sees what’s really going on, what our hearts are wrestling with. And He wants us to admit it and open our lives up to Him and His Word. Then we have to be ready to be changed by it, to throw off all our coats and false fronts, and run with perseverance on this race both toward Christ and fueled by Christ.

We’re in the business of losing ourselves and finding our lives in Jesus. That’s no small undertaking. It’s tough and it’s a lifelong process. But one thing I can guarantee – you’ll never see yourself or this world the same way again…

Enjoying the Journey,

Pastor Doug

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