Justification by Affliction: by Dustin Neeley

A Confession

Let’s start with a confession: I love Affliction T-shirts.

The fleur de lis reminds me of my city. The skulls remind me of my depravity. They are comfortable and hand crafted. I love ’em. But because of their cost, I own only one of them that I bought on clearance at Macy’s. Oddly enough, at the risk of sounding girly, I actually think about that one shirt a lot (although the bones do help my case). And it’s not primarily for the comfort or the craftsmanship, though it may indeed have something to do with my depravity.

As the thought turns in my mind, the question that haunts me is, “Why did I really want that shirt in the first place?” Is it for the reasons I mentioned above, which seem harmless enough? Or is it for some less harmless reason like, “All the cool kids wear them and I want to fit in?” Hmmm… The plot thickens.

We have just stepped from the dark closet where my shirt hangs into the much darker corners of the soul.

The Lie

All of us have “false justifiers” that we use to try to justify ourselves before God and others, and there are ways we seek false justification that are as nuanced as our own personalities and ministry contexts. For many, what we wear, or at least our appearance, is high on the list. And each time we allow how we appear before others to become more important than how we appear before God, it is stark evidence of our belief in the great Lie that Jesus and the good news that he has spoken over us is not enough.

The Truth

As with any lie, the only way to effectively counter it is with the Truth. When we seek to “clothe ourselves” in the righteousness that the “right kind” of clothing can provide, we must remind ourselves that we are already clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Isa. 61:10). When we seek to find our value in the fact that we can buy something of significant value on earth, we must remind ourselves that we are of great value to God and have been bought at a great price (1 Cor. 6:20) already. We have to counter the Lie with the Truth.

So is it wrong to wear an Affliction T-shirt? No.

Is it wrong to define yourself by what you wear? Yes.

So tomorrow when you reach in the closet for what to wear, stop and ask yourself, “Why am I about to wear what I am about to wear? To honor God or to seek to impress others?” If you find the Lie at work, kill it with the Truth. “I am not justified by what I wear, but by the righteousness that I am now clothed with in Christ.” And with the name of Christ written on your soul, it doesn’t matter what name is written on your shirt.

To be continued.

by Dustin Neeley

Learn more about how to spot the Truth and the Lie working in all areas of life at the Exchange Conference in San Diego, June 17-18.



1 Response to “Justification by Affliction: by Dustin Neeley”

  1. June 7, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Guilty as charged

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