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.