I don’t like the color white. White doesn’t stay white for long. If it is a white fence, then it will soon be a green and white, mildewed fence. If it is a white sign, it will soon be faded. If it is a white shirt, sweat stains will soon sully the seams. This example is more problematic for me than the former example. Why? Because white never stays clean! White isn’t white for long, and then, never is again. White needs to be painted or painted on, but not plain.
In the song “I’ll Be List’ning”, verse three repeats the phrase “If my robe is white when He calls me…” The thought is taken from Revelation 7.14, or 22.14, where we see saints being ushered into Heaven because of their blood-washed, white robes. My brain turns to thoughts of mildew, sun-bleaching, and heat. Mildew must be cleaned; often. Frequent maintenance is required to keep mildew away; too much exposure to the sun inevitably fades away the white; and stains require immediate attention before then set in.
Suddenly, the use of the color white is transparent: Should we not maintain our focus on living Christ-like lives, discoloration appears, and grows, like gangrene. In the beginning, the mildew is barely noticeable. A little less like Christ in this area, a little less like Christ in that; if mildew is allowed to stay, the smell never leaves. Jesus has sent his robe wearers into the world (John 17.18ff) to show off their colors. But, if we are constantly exposing our lives to sin we tend to desire it; and our white-hot resolve begins to fade. Sweat stains of sin? Jesus can make a white that has no discoloration. Jesus offers a white that scripture describes with words like, “Snow, radiant, intense, like lightning, as light, dazzling, as no one on earth could bleach”.
Perhaps the lack of this searing white contributes to my problem with the color, contributing to my desire to add to it. But I need add nothing. I have only to submit my robes for the bloodbath that will take away the discoloring stains of my sin. “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing flood?” “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole…now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”