Disclaimer: the words you’re about to read were not given to me by God. He neither wrote them in the sky nor in the steam of my shower walls. They’re mine. My words, my opinion, my fault if something doesn’t ring completely true.
I will say this: I’ve prayed a lot about what I’m about to write. And actually I don’t know exactly what I’m about to write. I have some notes I scrawled at a few stoplights and in the bank drive-thru this morning. I even took a notepad with me on a walk around the block this afternoon (not that I’ll be able to read what I wrote).
I know this much. Last night’s facebook/blog discussion on “Does Jesus want me to dress up for church?” got my emotions going. Tight chest, blood bubbling, I even cried myself to sleep. Maybe I’ve just been through a lot lately. Or maybe I just felt really misunderstood.
Maybe I’m stalling.
If it wasn’t pushing 11pm (with a big day behind me and another one on the morrow), I might make a little outline so my points are clear and in order. Oh, who am I kidding? Let’s just jump in the pool fully-clothed.
Used to be I didn’t drink alcohol. (Trust me. This will all come back to church clothes in a sec.) Why not?
I thought it was wrong for Christians to drink.
I didn’t take my first sip (my first SIP) until I was 34 years old (THIRTY-FOUR). Why did I try it then? Because I read through the Bible for the 15th or 23rd time, and somehow, that time I realized that what I’d believed for 34 years–that it was wrong for Christians to drink–WAS NOT IN THE BIBLE. God’s people drank in the OT, they drank in the NT, JESUS DRANK (and even made his own wine one time).
But guess what? If you ask me today, “Do you drink alcohol?” I’ll say “no.” (?!?!) True story. I don’t drink. But guess what? My reasons are different now.
1.) I tried a few different kinds of alcohol, and they mostly made me gag. 2.) Alcohol’s not in my budget. 3.) My heart-attack-survivor husband’s diet is low in sodium, no in alcohol.
If you love Jesus and you want to drink, now I’ll smile and say, “Awesome.” You drink, I don’t. We both love Jesus.
Now, let’s change gears. Here’s what I wear to church on any given Sunday: jeans, t-shirt, and either tennis shoes or flip-flops. Maybe you wear a cute polka-dotted dress, pantyhose, and adorable red open-toed heels.
Do we both love Jesus? Yes, we do. Awesome.
I’ll tell you what bothered me most about last night’s discussion. When people said that we should dress up for church because God wants us to “give Him our best.” Or that “dressing up shows respect for God.” Or, “Sunday is a holy day and should be set apart by how we dress.” Or, “would you dress up for a king? Because God is our King.”
I would love for some of those statements to be re-phrased to say, “This is my personal conviction. For me, dressing up is a sign of respect to God. I want to give Him my best, and for me, that includes my clothing. And I totally get–and respect–that your clothing may be saying something totally different to God.”
Why yes, yes it is. So glad you asked.
If my Sunday morning jeans and t-shirt could talk, this is what they would say:
“God, thank you so much for these $4 jeans from the thrift store that have lasted so wacky long. What a blessing. Thank you for this t-shirt I bought from those crazy kids doing work in Africa. It’s a constant reminder to pray for the people there who are suffering so much.
Thank you for allowing me to go to a church where my simple wardrobe is accepted without question, where my beautiful fashionista friends still manage to find something about me to compliment (did you get your hair cut? so cute!!).
Thank you that it takes me about 20 minutes to get ready in the morning (shower included) so I can spend more time doing what I really want to do: read my Bible, journal, and drink coffee. Thank you for all the money I’ve saved by not buying a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ wardrobe. I love being able to give.
Thank you that the boys who walk to church without their parents always shake my hand and smile when I greet them at the door. Thank you that they don’t stick out like sore thumbs just because they don’t own any ‘real’ church clothes.
Thank you that there’s nothing flashy about me to distract people while they’re worshiping. Thank you that I can raise my hands in praise without worrying about my clothes doing inappropriate things without my consent.”
OKAY, WE GET THE POINT.
Friends, the bottom line is this: God never, ever tells us we have to dress up for church. He does say things like, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”
IT IS OKAY IF YOU DRESS UP FOR CHURCH. Some of my most favorite people dress SO CUTE at church (I’m looking at you, Mandie! Shalla! Jolie!) If what you wear is an act of worship for you, if your heart is in the right place, I am 100% for you dressing up.
I’m just asking you to accept that my choice of clothing is an act of worship too. In a different way.
Drinking may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong. Playing cards/going to the movies/listening to rock music/fill-in-the-extra-biblical-blank may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong. Jeans to church may be wrong for you, but the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong.
I love the diversity of our church. Not just the racial/ethnic diversity, but all the different ways we dress on Sunday. Because you know what I think it says to the seeker who shows up for the first time, a whole lot nervous about what he’ll find? YOU BELONG HERE.
Is your hair all slicked back and your suit all spiffy? You belong here. Are you struggling to feed your family, let alone buy them clothes that fit? You belong here. Is fashion your creative outlet, your special gift? You belong here. Are you clueless when it comes to what matches what? You belong here.
Perhaps I should stay on my side of the Mason-Dixon Line, and I’m definitely not going to name any denominations here, but can you tell me, those of you who go to a church where every single person is dressed to the nines on Sunday morning, do poor people ever come through your doors? And do they come back again? Is this okay with Jesus?
Oh, goodness. I have so much more to say. Haven’t even made a dent in my scribbled notes, but I’m already 200 words over my self-imposed 1000-word limit, so I’ll wrap it up with this:
God looks at the heart. Do we? Really and truly? And are we more concerned with aligning our hearts with God’s or looking a certain way?
And where do we get our ideas about what church should look like/what we should look like at church? From the Bible or somewhere else?
Whatever you wear to church, are you willing to accept those who have different ideas/values/convictions about their choice of Sunday dress?
And I didn’t even address the whole have-we-gotten-too-casual-and-buddy-buddy-with-God question.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (and if you already addressed this on fb or Tuesday’s post, feel free to copy and paste your comment over here)
Come back tomorrow where we’ll answer this question: Is spending hundreds of dollars on coordinating Easter outfits for your family (complete with new purses, shoes, and hair bows) the most appropriate way to celebrate Christ’s humble death and resurrection? (Kidding! Sort of. Like 76%.)