Daily Devotional for Sunday November 9, 2008
What People Wear to Church
(1 Timothy 2:9; Ecclesiastes 9:8)
This is one of those Devotionals I have shared in the past that upsets a few folks. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, but is so fraught with "land mines," it will no doubt end up upsetting many people today as well. Hopefully God has given me the wisdom of Solomon in dealing with what is a very sensitive issue and helped me to address all of the different views regarding not only what we wear to church, but what a Pastor wears.
Let me ask you a question. If you are going on an interview for a great job that pays well, has wonderful benefits, what are you going to wear? Do you show up in jeans, shorts, sandals, a t-shirt, or do you take the time and effort to put on the best clothes you have? Ultimately, they are hiring you, not your clothes, so why bother dressing up? What you wear doesn't change who you are or the skills and gifts you have to perform the job you are trying to get. You put on your best clothes so that you can make the best impression possible. You dress up so the person interviewing you knows that you care enough about the job to look your best.
Many companies and businesses have strict dress codes. You are required to dress up when you are at work due to the image that business wants to portray to those they associate with. They have set certain standards for their employees to live up to including what they wear while on the job. Dressing up to come to work doesn't make their employees any smarter, or perform their job at a higher level, but it does show respect and commitment to their job when they take the time and effort to dress nice.
I know I am stepping into the deep end today, but this is a word that I need to bring forth. If we can get dressed up to go on a job interview, if we can dress up to go to work, if we can dress up to go visit Aunt Betty, if we can dress up to go to a nice restaurant, if we can dress up for dozens of other reasons, WHY CAN'T WE DRESS UP TO GO SEE JESUS??? What ever happened to having enough respect for the house of God to put on our best clothes when we go there? If you had a meeting with Jesus, wouldn't you put on your best clothes to go see Him?
Like in everything that happens in a church, it is the pastor, the shepherd, who must lead. The pastor must have a vision for his church and convey that vision to the people and lead them in seeing it fulfilled. The pastor must lead his church in every other area as well, INCLUDING WHAT PEOPLE WEAR TO CHURCH! Let me be blunt. It is no wonder people go to church today in torn jeans, shorts, deck shoes, golf shirts, t-shirts, when that is what the pastor wears! It is no wonder why women show up to church on Sunday looking like they are ready to work in the garden or go to the club, young men and women wearing clothes that show their underwear, when the pastor has created this lax, laid back, casual environment based on the fact he shows up on Sunday morning like he is heading to the gym!
I know I'm in the middle of it now, so please bear with me. What I am talking about is not some violation of God's Word that says you have to dress up to come to church or that the pastor has to wear a suit and tie. What I am talking about is setting a standard, having enough respect for God and His house to take the time and effort and care enough to put on your best clothes when you go to church. The pastor is God's representative. He is not only there to lead the people, but to set the example for them. What I am talking about today is appearance, simply honoring the Lord in what we wear when we come to serve and worship Him.
Listen, I am VERY aware that too many have used Sunday morning like it is a Milan fashion show. It sadly turned into a time to see who can out dress the other. That is just as wrong on the other end of the spectrum. I am also aware that many who come to church simply don't have nice clothes. They should not be made to feel inferior or unwelcome just because they may not have nice clothes to wear, but that doesn't mean the whole church has to come looking like they are homeless! Every person has a different wardrobe, but most men have a suit and tie and most women have a nice dress or other outfits they wear when they dress up. That is all I am talking about. Making the effort to dress nice and look our best out of respect for the house of God and for our Lord.
I am also well aware of the argument that it is not what you wear when you come to church, but your heart. I agree. It is more important that we are there, with a heart open to praising and worshipping our great God and being fed His Word and fellowshipping with other Believers. My point is that it still comes back to an issue of respecting God's house and the Lord enough to dress up and look our best when we come to church on Sunday morning, and it is the pastor who sets that standard for his church by what he wears on Sunday morning and encouraging his congregation to come to church looking their best.
I love you and care about you so much. I realize that this is not the most spiritual issue there is, but it is real life, and trust me, it IS an issue. Having preached in over 500 churches of all denominations around the nation, I know it is something that many pastors and churches struggle with. Much of the controversy around how to dress for church has arisen in the past 10 years with the plethora of "seeker churches" and churches who have "contemporary" services. I know the idea is to "meet people where they are at," and to try to not look like "church," but I have never agreed that you have to disguise the message or lower the standards to reach the lost. Going to church should be at least as special as going out to eat at a nice restaurant.
Going to God's house should automatically demand enough respect for those who come to wear nice clothes. It is not to show off what a great wardrobe you have, use it as an opportunity to flaunt some high-priced outfit, but to simply out of respect and honor for God, look nice. Again, it is the pastor who has to lead on this issue, and that doesn't mean he has to show up every Sunday in a new $5,000 Boss suit with a $300 tie. He is the one God has placed in a position of spiritual authority and he needs to set the standard for his church in all things, including how they dress. He is God's representative and should at least respect God enough to wear a coat and tie on Sunday.
I will be praying for you today. Yes, the most important thing is the message and the work of the Kingdom. However, church is a special place and a special time each week. We should make it special by what we wear. It should be special enough for us to dress up, to put on our best clothes and honor God not only with our heart but with our appearance. I have NO DOUBT that if you knew Jesus was coming to visit you in an hour, you would immediately be in the shower, you would wash your hair, brush your teeth, put on your best cologne or perfume, and you would PUT ON YOUR BEST CLOTHES NOT TO IMPRESS THE LORD, BUT OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE LORD!!!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller