The Emperor’s New Clothes

Over the next several weeks, we build on the theme of spiritual brokenness through reflecting on last week’s video, The Place of the Broken Beggar. To read the full text of the poem or see the video again, click here.

When all is said and done… when nothing else remains… when all is stripped away, there I stand naked and alone… naked and alone.

The beloved fairy tale writer, Hans Christen Andersen, penned the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. The tale is about an emperor obsessed with wearing the finest of all clothes. He hires two weavers who promise him the most magnificent outfit but they tell him the fabric is invisible to those “hopelessly stupid.” Not wanting to appear ignorant, all the townspeople pretend they can see the fabric as the emperor parades his “new clothes” through the streets. Finally, the pretension is shattered when a child—too young to understand why everyone was playing along—cries out, “The Emperor is naked!” Eventually, others join in the cry but the emperor continues trying to maintain the pretense.

At first glance, the story seems little more than a silly tale but at a closer look, we might discover something about ourselves. If we can be gut-level honest, don’t we act similarly when it comes to sin? We have this tenacious ability to pretend our sin—our nakedness before God—doesn’t exist. Despite that Scripture says our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), we often act as though we are respectably clothed. Though we admit the need for forgiveness, many times we fail to truly own our sins as they manifest in our lives.

For instance, even though we know not to covet, lie, or be greedy we do it anyway. Not outright… but with a little spin. We redefine sin. We’re not coveting, just gloriously imagining new possibilities. We’re not really lying, just stretching the truth.  We’re not greedy, just responsible with our limited resources. On and on the excuses go because it’s too disturbing to believe we really are naked after all… wholly inclined to sin.

How do we overcome our our natural inclination to sin? How do we live such a life that seems so counter-intuitive to our selfish souls? When we see our sin, we stop trying to hide it or water it down. We simply admit our need and confess our sins to God. In this place of brutal honesty we discover the transforming power of divine grace to break the power sin has long held over our lives and in our hearts. In doing so, we discover we are no longer naked and alone… for he clothes us with his righteousness and covers us with his presence.

Next week, we continue to explore the meaning of spiritual brokenness and how critical it is for the restoration of faith and hope.


What Do You Think?

Have you ever experienced a moment of ruthless honesty in regard to sin? Describe the situation and how did you feel?


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Author: David Trementozzi

David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. To learn more about David, go to the About David page above.