Oh, What to Wear to Church…

December 23, 2013 — 8 Comments

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Imagine receiving an invitation to have a personal conversation with the President of the United States. No matter your partisanship, this would be a great honor. Time would be spent preparing. What am I going to say? How am I going to behave? What am I going to wear?

Now imagine, you’ve received a personal invitation to have a conversation with Almighty God. How would that preparation differ? Would it require more thought or less?

We forget so often as the kids yell from the backseat and the car creeps 15 miles an hour over the speed limit just to make it to church on time, that God has called and invited us there. Church is not about seeing friends and “catching up” although that is enjoyable. It is first and foremost to meet with and have a conversation with God.

What am I going to wear?

A few years ago, churches began pulling in many people with their “Come as you are” mottoes. Suits and ties were out, t-shirts and holey (not holy) jeans were in. Dresses were replaced by sweatshirts and yoga pants. Pastors stood behind the pulpit on Sunday morning declaring the word of God dressed in Saturday afternoon attire. All so “others” would feel more comfortable and not as intimidated to attend.

Jesus certainly did say, “Come as you are.” But he was speaking to the weak and the burdened. Come with your anxiety, your doubts, and your guilt. Come to me with your concerns and worries, and I will trade them for rest and ease. This verse does not refer to clothing.

Now I believe every church should be ready and open for anybody to walk in the doors. From the lady in her finest gown to the beggar man in smelly rags. Our arms should be open and they should see and feel the love of Christ overflowing through his people. They should be allowed the best seats (which in most churches is the back pew). God rejoices when a sinner comes as they are, and his church embraces them and points them to the cross.

The problem started when the church members began dressing the same way. They came as they were, interpreting this to mean as casually as possible. And this is where I have a problem. But before you count me off as a legalistic, here me out.

From the beginning, God has always required our best. Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable to the Lord because he didn’t give what God had commanded. Malachi condemned the Jews for their giving by saying, “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts.” Today we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifices offering to the Lord a sacrifice of praise.

So what is our best? Do we find ourselves “thrown together” Sunday morning, mouthing words of songs between sips of coffee as we check for a message on our phone? Do we choose what is comfortable over what is appropriate?

We wear nice clothes at funerals out of respect for the dead. We dress up for weddings in respect for the couple. We even wear our best to parties at times out of respect for the host. And yet, as we struggle to dress up for church, what is that saying about our respect for God. What we wear says a lot about our attitude, regard, and courtesy for the circumstances, place, and people involved.

Most of us worship weekly. And after a while it becomes mundane, ordinary, and customary.

But it doesn’t have to! Meeting with God is an honor, not a right. It’s a privilege, not a duty.

But we must prepare every week to meet him. And that includes our clothes. Everybody’s “best” is different but the outward can be a sign of the inward heart. I don’t mind if people show up to church in casual attire. But when somebody becomes a member, actively involved, and maturing as a Christian, so should their wardrobe.

The President would frown upon a man in cut-offs and a tank top walking into his oval office. God requires his worshippers to love him with all of their heart, mind, and soul. And I truly believe that when we regain that awesome wonder for his glory and majesty, we wouldn’t dare walk into his presence in anything less than our best.

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8 responses to Oh, What to Wear to Church…

  1. 

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I could be wrong, but my initial thoughts are that I would have to disagree, in that, the President’s position, and every position anywhere near that vicinity, has a required dress code – a very strict one. The President is, of course, a man. And “man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks on the heart.” I don’t think God does things quite the same as we humans do – “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” I guess I’m more concerned with how my heart appears to the Lord, than my clothes(and of course, my heart is sinful and always in need of molding and shaping from the Holy Spirit). As far as funerals go, maybe I’m the oddball, in that, I very rarely go dressed to the nines. I think that’s because I realize that my departed beloved knew me, and the condition of my heart, and doesn’t think what I wear has anything to do with our relationship. Maybe that’s just me. But I believe there is an innate difference in a relationship(with the Lord, friends, family, etc.) and a job which comes with a dress code, as most do. It is simply an end to a means, or a conformity to a rule, rather than a reflection of what goes on inside one’s head or heart. As in all things that are not clearly laid out for us in the Word of God, each of us should be familiar with some of my favorite passages -Romans 12 and 14. We needn’t follow others’ convictions, and must work toward keeping the body unified. We shouldn’t be concerned with who “eats meat or doesn’t eat meat,” and we certainly should obey the convictions the Lord lays upon our hearts. You are absolutely right to do that. Those are just some initial thoughts I had, as I just read this. I’m open to hearing other relevant Scriptures and thoughts for sure. I enjoyed reading your views on it, and always enjoy your blog posts.

    • 

      *A means to an end.* LOL. That was backwards.

    • 

      Sorry for blowing up your comments section. I was trying to feed a kid and talk to another while typing, so I neglected to include all of the things I was thinking as I read. You hit the nail on the head when you addressed the reason Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable to the Lord – it was because God had given Cain a command, a specific instruction, and Cain disobeyed that command outright. God doesn’t give us a command regarding our attire other than modesty and what is found in 1 Peter 3:3-4, which also contains instructions: “3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” That passage implies that the Lord is not concerned with our clothes, but our hearts. Coming into God’s presence isn’t something that occurs once a week. I’m in the Lord’s presence all the time. I come before Him and talk to Him when I’m at church, when I’m in the shower, when I’m driving, when I’m covered in my child’s spit-up and snot – anytime. I’m not at church to converse with God necessarily more than usual. I’m there to serve, edify, sharpen one another’s swords, and to worship God Almighty. But my worship and prayer happens at church, or when I’m in my pj’s, when I’m on vacation or when I’ve got the flu. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m all for dressing up if one feels convicted to do so. Just never finished my thoughts in my distraction. Again, I enjoyed reading your viewpoint. This might bring a smile to your face. Our church is very casual, for the most part, but there’s a lady who always comes with stage makeup, an elaborate updo, and a formal. A formal, like prom(modest, though) – floor length, always shiny, sometimes covered in sequins. Always brings a smile to my face. 🙂

  2. 

    Thank you LeAnn for not only reading the post, but thinking about it, and taking the time to respond. I think we both agree whole-heartily that worship is a heart issue.I would never condone a dress code for church for everyone’s “best” is different. Plus that could only lead to legalism.
    But going back to the Israelites, the priests had to wear specific garments down to the material, color, and accessories. In this, I can see that God does care, even if just a little bit, about clothes.
    About being in the presence of God all the time, it is true. All week we are worshiping in work, play, and all different activities. But church is a special time, set apart, to come together and pray, sing, and read the Word of God.And if our sacrifices during this time as priests of God are to be wholly acceptable, I think it requires us to offer ALL of ourselves. Even our attire.
    Thanks again for your response and blessings as you serve the Lord in and outside of your household.

    • 

      Very true. The priests had very precise things they had to wear. As opposed to our day, much of it was symbolic – things which represented the tribes and such(for the Jews). Boy am I glad that I don’t live under the age of Law, but the age of grace. We are blessed indeed. Good sharpening one another’s swords. 🙂 Hope you all had a great Christmas!

  3. 

    Josh,
    I struggle with a couple of your points and I pray you do not still believe everything that you said in this blog 9 months ago. How can you say worship becomes mundane, ordinary, and customary? How does Jesus coming down to earth, living a sinless life as a man, and voluntarily getting on that cross, even though He knew the depth of our sin, become anything but overwhelming? If we believe worship is mundane, ordinary, and customary, then it is being done wrong and the condition of our hearts need to be checked.
    God could care less about what we are wearing and cares greatly about the condition of our hearts while we corporately worship. Are we seeking His face for repentance for our sins? Are we meditating on the gospel and what love there is from Jesus to have sacrificially given up His life and enduring a humiliating death for our sin?
    The power of the grace that He has given us should be passed on to those around us. No one gives grace better than those who believe they are in need it. If we are truly loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves, those thoughts of what people are wearing should quickly leave our minds. Let us rejoice that they are in church, rather than look down our noses thinking what they ought to do.
    You had said we must prepare every week to meet him. And that includes our clothes. Everybody’s “best” is different but the outward can be a sign of our inward heart. WHAT? I couldn’t find any verses that said our clothes and appearance reflected the condition of our hearts. We do not need to to clean up to come to Christ. It seems like you may have the wrong perpective on ministry if you are focused more on the theological correctness and the rules more than the love of Christ. If theology and rules could transform the hearts of idolaters, then there would have been no need for Jesus to come, live, die and rise again. If we take Christ out of the equation, it ends with the means becoming the end and a Christianity devoid of power against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
    Sadly, sometimes we are driven more for a passion for ideas than for a love of people and a love for Christ. Often, sin blinds, and those blinded by sin, tend to be blind to their blindness, it is dangerous to handle the truths of the Word without looking in the mirror and seeing we what we are. Sometimes we get so puffed up with knowledge, we smugly think we are okay or our internal litagator says I am a good guy or at least I am better than that guy. When we compare ourselves with other men may seem okay but when we compare ourselves with the King of Kings we realize we fall very short and are in desperate need of a Savior. We need fixing just as much as those who are not dressed in their “best.” I am afraid we all get caught in a belief that we are more mature and Godly than we are. God wants us to use the gospel to transform us and those around us and if the clothing someone is wearing becomes more important than the fact they are in church….there is a problem.
    Josh, I love you and your heart for God but this post stirred something in me and I had to respond. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. walter

    • 

      I do appreciate your comments, Walter. I think if we talked we’d agree on pretty much everything. This blog was never written so we could judge other people but simply as a self check as we go to church. It was reminder that God wants all of us. I truly believe if we are mature Christians, every part of our life will show that. I mentioned that this wasn’t about legalism, but deepening our worship and honor for God.

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