Friday, March 09, 2007

DRESSING UP FOR GOD

Do you "dress up" for God? I mean do you wear your "Sunday best" when you worship God? Dressing up is pretty important to a lot of people. But why should we "dress up" only on Sunday? If God is always with us and if we are always before Him, then shouldn't we always present to Him our best? Seems to me that we should.

The Scripture teaches us to always be "dressed in readiness" and to be prepared for the eventuality of His return (Lk 12:35). Are we dressed in His righteousness having clothed ourselves with Christ at Baptism (Galatians 3:26,27)? With God's forgiveness, we are like Joshua who was "clothed in filthy garments" (Zechariah 3:3), but when God forgave him, it says, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes" (Zechariah 3:4). Likewise, because of our obedient faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), we have washed our robes and made them white by the blood of Christ (Rev. 7:14). This is how we dress up for God.

Now some people think it is important to emphasize outward clothing. Here is where we need to be careful that we don't give the wrong message. These people will reason that because we "dress up" for men, like when attending a wedding or funeral, we ought to dress up for God. Van Morris is one such person who says,
"In Genesis 41 we find the Pharaoh sending for Joseph who is in a prison dungeon. We read: '. . .and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and come in unto Pharaoh.' It appears that for some people, going before an important person evokes a certain degreee of respect that demonstrates itself in how one presents themselves. How much more so when the important person is the almighty God?" (Pulpit Helps, March 2007, p. 4)
What do you think about this reasoning? Is it valid to say that we ought to wear our best clothes to worship because Joseph cleaned up before he was presented to Pharaoh? Is there a Scriptural connection between wearing your fanciest clothes to please a man and wearing fancy clothes to please God? If so, then it is the church's business to be calling attention to clothing. Then again, don't we risk becoming judges with evil motives (Jas. 2:4)? I have heard people say that it is not about wearing expensive clothing, but it's about wearing your best clothes. Where does that come from?

Wearing fine clothes was not important to John the baptist (Lk. 7:25). If John came to worship with us, is there anyone who would judge him? My concern is that even the mention of "dressing up" carries the risk of emphasizing what is carnal and would potentially alienate a seeker. I don't get the impression that Jesus' wardrobe was anything special. So if Jesus came in to the temple wearing everyday clothes, is anyone going to judge Him? Setting up a dress code for Sunday worship is as much, or more, about pleasing men. Pressuring others to wear their "Sunday best" threatens to miss the more imporant message of dressing in righteousness. The risk of missing the true message is too great and should cause us to focus on what's important.

There is no doubt that God is in some ways concerned about "clothing". Some clothing is without a doubt inappropriate dress for a Christian. If it screams, "hey, look at me", it's probably out of place. And if that is our motive, we ought to work on that. Also, the Scriptures teach the importance of dressing modestly (1 Timothy 2:9,10). And that is something we ought to teach. But the Scripture also warns against judging people on the basis of their clothing (James 2). If we act in a way that makes a poor man feel uncomfortable because of his clothing, we have become "judges with evil motives" (James 2:4). Is anyone justified in questioning that man, either directly or indirectly, about whether he wore his best for God? Without impugning anyone's motive, that sounds like human reasoning.

Are you "dressed up" for God? Are you dressed in your righteousness? Have you obeyed the Gospel and received the forgiveness of God? Paul told the Galatians that in baptism, they have "clothed themselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27). "And now why do you delay, arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on His name." (Acts 22:16). If we walk with God and confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:7ff). Jesus died that we might live and become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). This is the right clothing to stand before God.

6 comments:

  1. This might tie in well with your post. Today it hit 40°F around these parts (it hasn't been this "warm" in a long time). At morning mass of course some were in shorts already! I am not in favor of this type of dress in God's House. Nevertheless, the "handicapped" pew was occupied by people who were not handicapped. (This row is wider for wheelchairs etc.) A boy, about 14, in a wheelchair and his mom and dad had to find another pew to sit in: Parents in the pew and the boy and his chair in the aisle. Even when they noticed the wheelchair and that they were in a handicapped pew they did not leave. Unbelievable!

    Surely all in shorts and giving up their seat would have been preferable to the "incident" I witnessed.

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  2. People have to be trained to be thoughtful. I was in a bagel shop this afternoon and while standing in line to get a cup of coffee, a woman pushed me aside to get past. I was in her way and the idea of saying "excuse me" was not in her. I thought to myself, is this why they started the "Minnesota Nice" campaign? Anyway, a good dose of empathy would have well served the teen you mentioned.But as it is, he may go on for a very long time oblivious to the concerns of others. What do you think he and his family would have done had you approached them and asked them to make room for the handicapped person?

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  3. Dan,

    I think it is good you bring the issue of clothing up. I talked to an unbeliever who didn't want to come to church because he didn't have the "proper clothing." I agree that we let our traditional requirements get in the way of what God truly desires, and sometimes end up becoming evil judges. The Southern churches will struggle with this for a while, I think. God's word is very powerful, however.

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  4. Enforcer10:38 PM

    Proper dress in todays worship should be an easy one. But some have such a difficult time with it. I agree with this Zack guy. We can at times get caught up in our feelings about something and forget the important things that slap us in the face. The bible does talk about modest dress and that should not only be done in the worship place but also outside of it. I guess if the dress bordered showing to much of ones self it would be our obligation to address.... in a gentle way. If that person had a difficult time with it and didn't understand what stumbling blocks are, or want to, then their motives are definately in question. Shorts don't seem offensive unless there are holes all over. I wonder how nice the disciples clothing was and if Christ sent them home to change?

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  5. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Why are you going back into the old testament? The old testments mean NOTHING! MATHEW MARK LUKE AND JOHN IS NOT EVEN NEW TESTAMENT!

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  6. Dear Anonymous,
    "The old testments mean NOTHING!" Really? There is a lot to learn from the "old testaments". 1 Corinthians 10:11 says "they were written for our instruction. . ." So you first premise is false. And your assertion that The four Gospels are Old Testament is clearly wrong. And your comment is transparent. You are perhaps one of the false teachers who want to escape the teaching of Christ in Matthew 5 and 19 on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. But I wish you well.
    - Discipler.

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