There was quite a discussion between Sunday School and church yesterday as word now has gotten out among the masses that the Elders are in serious discussions over a very worldy matter – it seems there is worry that some in the congregation dress too nicely. Seriously, some feel it inhibits others from attending church because … well, they don’t want to look too dowdy if they happen to sit in the same pew.
I think this it is the funniest non-problem I’ve ever heard and, while I’d never do anything to keep anyone from going to church, the goal for me is to worship rather worry about the way others perceive how I dress when I attend church. I don’t think God cares much about what those who worship Him wear as much as He loves the fact they are gathered in “His house” to do exactly that.
Very personally, I want to be presentable when I go before the Lord for anything. I happen to think I look nice in a navy blazer, khakis and a necktie but would quickly urge anyone else to dress any way that makes them the most comfortable and fulfills their definition of happiness. Worship is singing songs of praise, studying God’s word, praying for His mercies and usually being taught with a warm sermon. I’ve never heard of any dress code in my life but have been told to “look nice” since I was age three.
About 20 years ago the delightful country singer Ray Stephens summed up the whole issue real well when the hit comedy song of the day was his rendition of “Would Jesus Wear A Rolex?” Ray, who was wonderfully funny without ever being vulgar, had some great fun with “Ahab The Arab” and “Gitarzan” and “The Streak” but – mark this -- was also really a wonderful singer with “Misty” and “Everything Is Beautiful.”
Back in 1989, where there were some rather colorful TV evangelists flooding television air waves, it didn’t take long for Stevens to take the bait and, in a song written by Chet Atkins and Margaret Archer, he really let fly:
* * *“
Woke up this mornin', turned on the TV set.
There in livin' color, was somethin' I can't forget.
This man was preachin' at me, yeah, layin' on the charm
Askin' me for twenty, with ten-thousand on his arm.
“He wore designer clothes, and a big smile on his face
sellin' me salvation while they sang Amazin' Grace.
Askin' me for money, when he had all the signs of wealth.
I almost wrote a check out, yeah, then I asked myself ….
“Would He wear a pinky ring, would He drive a fancy car?
Would His wife wear furs and diamonds, would His dressing room have a star?
If He came back tomorrow, well, there's somethin' I'd like to know
Could ya tell me ….Would Jesus wear a Rolex on His television show?
“Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth?
Have His second home in Palm Springs, yeah, and try to hide His worth?
Take money, from those poor folks, when He comes back again,
and admit He's talked to all them preachers
who say they been a talkin' to Him?"
* * *
Back when we were kids and would slip off for a smoke and a philosophic discussion between Sunday School and church, we used to wonder where Jesus would go to church if He drove through town. Face it, we have dozens of different religious “tribes” that “all agree to disagree” on what the Good Book actually says and – please -- that’s fine with me.
The way I always figured it is that God made Man in His image but He also made each one of us uniquely different. Some people drive red cars and other prefer classical music. Some have hair and some guys don’t. Some are tall and so forth. But we each have a brain with its own combination lock and the answer is perfectly obvious: wear what makes you happy and I hope feel like you “look nice” when you go to church.
What you wear is up to you. I think God’s got his eye on what’s inside, not outside, our bodies. When I was at church Sunday I noticed everything from men in dark suits to folks looking like they were at the beach. I was happy to see every single one of them and, as far as I could see, every single person in the church sure looked great to me.