Sunday, October 25, 2015

Get Dressed! Or Go Back To Work At The Gentleman's Club

Friday night and your favorite band is in town.  SWEET!!!  Get out of school or out of work and hurry to the show.  Sounds fun and something you might not put much thought into other than who's driving and where you're stopping at for dinner.  If you really had to think about the evening, you might have even planned on being the first few in the door to make sure you could get as close to the stage as possible making sure the sweat of the lead guitarist fell on you while he head bangs.  At the end of the night, your plans were a success!  Not only did you get to enjoy every bit of sweat dripping on you, but you got to take your first stage dive.  I'm pretty certain you were glad you chose to wear shorts to the show too, that way you stayed somewhat cool in the hot and sweaty packed like sardine venue.  Overall, best concert you have ever attended.

Now, for those of you reading this knowing that a hardcore show is not for you, I'll give you something up your alley.  But, you actually have to choose what event it is you attend.  Not being mean, but there are too many things I could place you at, places I might not be able to provide the best visual for you.  Sorry.  Go ahead, visualize that Friday night that is now the best Friday night you've had in a long time, if not ever had.  How much thought did you put into going?  Did you plan on stopping at 'Doba on the way?  Was that stop at Dairy Queen on the way home your idea or a mutual decision between you and your spouse?  Would you tell your friends to catch the next performance by the local symphony?  Did you feel under dressed when you set foot at the Civic Center production of Cats?  I told you, too many scenarios available in describing your Friday Night event.  Hopefully, your visualized your fantastic night out on the town.

No matter what your perfect night on the town looked like, how did you dress?  Did you just throw something on?  Did you have to get all dressed up in your semi formal best?  Were your dancing shoes a part of your attire?  Or, did you let your wild fan self out, rip off your shirt and paint yourself in your favorite college team colors for their basketball game?  I'm pretty certain you dressed according to situation, event, venue requirements and possibly an expectation based on visiting Broadway or The Apollo.

Fast forward to Sunday mornings.  You attend church on a regular basis.  Your Sunday best always find you in slacks, button down shirt and tie if you're a guy.  Ladies, you doll yourself up and put on the summer dress making sure to cover areas that might cause guys to look at you.  Your make up enhances the already beautiful face God gave you.  Jewelry accentuates your outfit, and the heels or flats simply matches your mood - prim and proper or semi relaxed.  How many of you have just seen yourself in front of the mirror in this attire?  I challenge you to think about this process.  Why are some of us still stuck on our appearance when we go to church?

Old theory here, some are stuck on appearance based on the belief that, "Give your best for God," means in everything, most importantly their attire on Sunday.  Okay, I agree with giving our best for God, or in all things do them as if doing it for the Lord.  I don't believe this applies to dress codes in church.  Think about it.  What is church?  Our feeble minds have made church - the building - more than what it is.  To me, it is a building.  A building people meet with mostly like minded people, worshiping, learning, teaching and enjoying fellowship.  And sadly, this is what we, simple minded people, have made church.  But what does the Bible say about church?  Better yet, what does God say about church?  Besides addressing churches in Revelation, and the examples given us by Paul in Acts, what is most important about church?  Matthew 18:20 states two or more.  To me, that means you can have church anywhere!  How cool is that?!?!?

Get past the coolness of having church anywhere (I know people that do, and I have done so myself) and humor yourself for a minute.  You are at your favorite neighborhood grocery store, grabbing a gallon of milk for your cereal.  Since you just rolled out of bed, you're still in your PJ's, breath stinks and hair slightly disheveled.  You really don't expect to see anyone at 730 in the morning, but you just happen to run into the youth leader of your church.  He/she looks fairly similar to you, and since you try to be nice to everyone you both strike up a conversation hoping the other can't smell your morning breath.  Suddenly, another person from church shows up, joins the conversation and by the time you realize y'all have been chatting for about 20 minutes, each of you have shared the joys and heartaches of the week.  Before parting, you quickly pray for each other, share side hugs and go about your day.  Now, how were you dressed?  You may not have been in a church, but you had a quick 20 service.  I'm willing to bet, you didn't rush home to change and clean up.  Just a thought.

Last example time.  All of us know someone who needs a little hope.  Sometimes, that hope is in the form of going to a place where they can be accepted for being them.  They just want to show up, see a smiling face or two and hear something that can give them a glimpse of hope and something better than what they currently know.  This place for them is the church just up the road from home - your church.  She walks in the front door in clothes that will make your mom blush.  Sure, you got all cleaned up and dressed in the Sunday best you've known and loved.  But her, if you didn't know any better you'd think she just walked in off the streets where the John's like to visit.  Again, since you try to be nice to everyone, you greet her.  That simple greeting, and your smile, comfort her just enough to return the greeting.  Something else happened in that brief exchange and suddenly you both are engaged in a full conversation.  This is where you find out that she needs hope, needs acceptance, needs love, and needs God.  Her visit today comes on the heels of a 36 hour weekend at work.  She's tired of what she dealt with, the constant heartbreak she feels in a job she feels trapped in.  Her boss wanted her to work longer that Sunday morning, but something told her to leave and visit your church.  You understand her feelings, up until the point she tells you her place of employment is the local Gentleman's Club.  This is where you are broken.  Broken for her, but more importantly broken by God.  He's brought this young lady into your church and your life to break how you feel about how others dress in church.  It's not uncommon for people to go straight to church from work and you've always had a problem with it because they weren't dressed as nicely as you.  Here, on this particular Sunday, God placed this young lady in your life, in minimal clothes, fresh out of hope with no one in her life loving her for her and not her body.  Both of you leave church that late morning changed.  She now has hope and you now have a fresh perspective on church attire as well as a new friend and sister in Christ.

Now, how do you feel about church attire?  Are you willing to put behind you the normal?  Are you willing to be uncomfortable?  Are you willing to take in the couple of teen boys in jeans and make them feel welcome?  Can you look past yourself for the better good of your church and be excited to see people in church?  People have left the church because they don't have your Sunday best.  They have their Sunday best, which could be the tattered pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a greased up pair of Carhart's, or even a short skirt with low cut top and high heels.  It is their Sunday best, what they are comfortable in, and what they thing God will accept them in.  Instead of using our feeble mind, think like and act like God - accept them because God already has.  He has given them hope.  What will you give them?