Sunday, May 07, 2006

I Know It's A Silly Issue, But...

I know it's a silly issue, but a real issue that many churches are dealing with. I heard of one preacher who a couple of weeks ago challenged his church members to dress up for church. He wanted his members to show reverence to God by men wearing suits and women wearing dresses. He challenged them with the example of meeting the President of the country. He said, "What would you wear if you were meeting the President of the United States? You should dress the same way to come to church because God is more important than the President." The logic seems simple; God is honored by me wearing "professional" clothing. The only problem is the logic is wrong.

I have no problem with wanting to be modest and reverent before the Lord, but judging a person's reverence by the way they dress instead of by their heart is wrong. Let's use the illustration above for example. Should I dress at church like I was meeting the President? Let me ask you a question. "Do you think that the President's wife, parents, and children dress differently and treat him differently than you or I would?" Of course they do. The reason they do isn't because they are disrespectful, but because they have a relationship with him. Hopefully it makes sense now, having a relationship with the Lord changes the way you are to show respect to the Lord. I would imagine that the President's wife and children would have to do more than change their clothes for George to feel that they respect him. The same is true with God. Its all about your love and obedience to the Lord that shows you respect Him. So dress with some modesty, but show respect by being faithful to the Lord.

I once visited a church that invited members to wear jeans and shorts. Something happened that I didn't expect. God was worshipped and the Word was preached. I had been taught that if men didn't wear suits and women didn’t wear dresses then the worship service would be in vain, God would be super mad, and everyone in the church would probably go to hell. Surprisingly the service at that church was warm, exciting, spiritual challenging, and I would say even God honoring. Why? The clothes don't make the man in God's eyes. God looks at the heart.

One time while I was in seminary, I went to church with a t-shirt, jeans, and sandals on. A church member and friend of mine came and said to me, "Boy, we are very dressed down today." I didn't find it rude because I worked with the person and knew them pretty well. See, we both worked at a place that you have to dress "professionally". So I told my friend, "No, I just didn't want to wear my work clothes to church." My friend was taken back a little and said, "God doesn't care what you wear.” meaning that it is okay to wear work clothes to church as long as they are a suit. I said, "Exactly, God doesn't care what I wear."

One final thought. I hope you realize that dress is such a silly and small issue when compared with our need to evangelize, to disciple, to fellowship, to minister, and to worship that I hope we don't let someone's dress distract us. My conclusion is dress with modesty before the Lord and have a respect for the "dress code" at the church you attend, but realize that your heart will tell more about your relationship with God than your dress will ever do.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read your article concerning the proper dressed for Church. Yes, I agree that God will not turn you away if you are not in a 3 piece suit. I must share with you that every parent enjoys and delights in seeing their children look and dress their best. Parents beam with love and admiration for their children when they dawn their best attire on special occasions, events, and gathering. This is a reflection on the parent’s teaching the child about respect and reverence for those things we hold dear, love, and honor. When a child dresses or responds in the matter the parent has taught, I believe this shows love, respect, and admiration, and yes, submission to the parent.

Yes, you are correct dress is a minor issue and it should not divide Christian brothers, but please be aware and be reminded that our dress does show and reflect who we are, what we believe, and how we relate to those around us.

Yes, you are correct not everyone can afford a 3 piece suit, but should we not be dressed in our best attired to be in the presences of our heavenly Father. Should we not allow and want our dress, along with our manners and behavior be a reflection of our love and reverence to our Lord Jesus Christ? The one, who left His throne in heaven to die on the cross so we can experience His forgiveness for all our sins and to receive the free gift of eternal life, is it to much to ask that as Christians we should cleaned ourselves up and dressed in whatever our best is, to worship and spend time with our Heavenly Father who gave his only Son?

Yes, I agree, as a parent I look at my child’s heart and I give thanks and praise to the Heavenly Father who gave my child a new heart. I praise my Lord because my child will live forever in the presences of our Lord. I do not think that dressing in my best when I attend church is too much to ask, it is my honor and my desire to reflect my Lord in everything I do, including my dress.

5/08/2006  
Blogger OKpreacher said...

Dear Anonymous,
I appreciate your comments and I'm sure that you have done a wonderful job of teaching your children about respecting the Lord.

After reading your response, I realized that I left out one main point in my article. If you are a “suit” guy or a “dress” woman, then please feel free to wear those garments to church. There are people that I know who would feel naked without a tie on. I heard of a pastor who would mow his lawn in slacks, button-up shirt, and tie. Men, if suits are your thing then wear them to church. Women, if you are a hat, white glove, and dress lady then wear it to church. My point is you have to be real. You have to be what you are before God. Don't dress to impress people or even God. Don't allow your dress to be another mask that you wear to church on Sundays. When I wear a suit, I feel like I'm in a cage. I'm just not a suit guy. Now in my profession, I need to wear a suit on different occasions. When I wear my suit it isn't to please God, but to please people. So my encouragement is dress in such a way that is modest but allows you to be real before God.

My dear Anonymous friend you wrote,
"This is a reflection on the parent’s teaching the child about respect and reverence for those things we hold dear, love, and honor. When a child dresses or responds in the matter the parent has taught, I believe this shows love, respect, and admiration, and yes, submission to the parent."

As a parent you have the right to teach your children your values and with being the parent your children should honor those values. Once a child becomes an adult they should examine those values and begin to learn what they believe and why they believe it Biblically. A person's values have to be based more on what God values then on what my Mommy or Daddy taught me.

Dear Anonymous you also wrote,
"Should we not allow and want our dress, along with our manners and behavior be a reflection of our love and reverence to our Lord Jesus Christ? The one, who left His throne in heaven to die on the cross so we can experience His forgiveness for all our sins and to receive the free gift of eternal life, is it to much to ask that as Christians we should cleaned ourselves up and dressed in whatever our best is, to worship and spend time with our Heavenly Father who gave his only Son?

The great truth of the Bible is that you and I don't have to clean ourselves up to come to God. Christ is the great fisherman, because He always cleans the fish after He catches them. He cleans us up and even provides the spiritual clothes through which He sees us. What are the spiritual clothes? It is Christ. As a believer in Christ, I'm clothed with Christ. This is all God is looking for, are you wearing Christ in your hearts or are you naked in your heart because you are without Christ.

Anonymous, here is a question for you. How do you define your best? Are you defining "best" as what clothes are clean on Sunday, do my clothes match, or do I like “professional”? I believe that as you answer this question, you will find that your answer is much more based on culture than on scripture.

Dear Anonymous you wrote,
"it is my honor and my desire to reflect my Lord in everything I do, including my dress.

Here you say that you want your dress to reflect the Lord. I really don't understand what you mean here. As far as I know, God the Father is a Spirit, therefore no earthly clothes needed. God the Holy Spirit is also a Spirit and no earthly clothes are needed. God the Son, Jesus Christ, wore earthly clothes, but never wore a suit or a dress. So how can you say that you are being like God by the clothes you wear when God never wore clothes like you wear. Maybe I'm taking your statement to literally.

My view and conclusion is this, dress should never be forced by a church. Your dress should be a modest and authentic reflection of your relationship with the Lord.

-OKpreacher

5/08/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your friend truly meant God doesn't care what you wear to church. I think he just was not used to seeing a minister dressed down like you were. Most ministers him and I know don't dress like that to church. That's all.

6/14/2006  

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