What kind of church do you attend? Is it a place with people dressed in their “Sunday best?” Is it a place where people wear casual attire? Or is it some combination of the two?
I travel and speak in churches often and it seems more people dress “somewhere in between.” Yet I have witnessed places where a shirt and tie seems dressed down, and other places where they reach out to folks such as former addicts, prostitutes, and gang members, and you could feel overdressed in a sport shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. I recognize that each style has supporters and detractors: The formal folks stress dignity, reverence and respect; the more casual crowd believes in relaxed intimacy.
I believe both approaches work because the real key is not what you are wearing on the outside. You can be perfectly attired and go to church unprepared to meet God. You can be casually dressed and spend a lot of time getting ready too (i.e., clothes, makeup, hair, etc.). Either way, if you are not ready to connect with God when you show up, He is not impressed.
Read Leviticus 10:1-7. In one instance, Nadab and Abihu (sonsof Aaron) were way too casual (and sloppy) as they burst into God’s presence to offer their own type of worship. They may have assumed they were wearing the right kinds of clothes and offered worship that was not received by the Lord. Death by fire was their punishment and it served as a warning to anyone who would carelessly approach the holy God’s presence.
Are you glad that God does not operate that way today? How many of us would be in real danger? Despite the clothes we wear to church, we often carry in baggage, unconfessed sin, and a carefree attitude that suggest we are not really there to honor the Lord and learn His ways. We sing worship songs that we really don’t believe that day because we are consumed and/or distracted by ourselves. I remember occasions where I was slumped in my seat, feeling sorry for myself, resenting the church’s (or is it God’s) intrusion into my time. I am lucky I did not have to dodge any heavenly fire on those Sundays.
Scripture declares that church is supposed to be a place where we gather with other “sick and hurting” people to worship God, learn about Him, and find strength and power to follow Him. Church is a place to meet with fellow travelers, all of whom recognize their need for divine help and human assistance to follow after Christ. We are called to come in as people on a journey and encourage one another on the path to healing and service.
Why do some of us come to church unprepared? My observation is that we come to church vandalized, neutralized or energized. Our responsibility then, is to come honestly to God and ask for help to overcome our natural tendencies, spiritual battles, and circumstances. We should come to church to worship God, be re-energized, cleansed, and sharpened for another week of building Christ’s kingdom. Church is a place to find help and help others on their journey too. I have recognized situations where I was distracted and unprepared, and asked God to forgive me for being focused on myself and not on Him. Then I turn my focus back onto Him and His purposes.
Whether you spend Sunday mornings choosing what you consider are the perfect clothes to wear, be sure to get ready on the inside. Walk wisely. People may notice how you look, but God notices what is inside. Look inside before you enter church.
Love is a verb,