Monday, June 7, 2010

Dress for success.

I wore a new dress to church on Sunday. It was too big and I was so uncomfortable that all I could focus on for the entire service was the dress. It's straps were falling off my shoulders, when I bent over to mess with one of the kids I felt like I was showing all I had to the world and I was sweating even though it was sleeveless.

We heard a sermon once while living in North Carolina about dressing appropriately on Sundays, as if we are approaching royalty. After all, we are going into the Lord's house, who is the King of Kings. At the time that I heard that particular message I completely disagreed with what the pastor was trying to get across to the congregation. I understood the sentiment behind his words but was thankful for the discerning spirit within me. I immediately expressed to Daniel that I thought it was crazy for us to be made as if we needed to dress a certain way in a specific attire to meet Jesus in a church on Sunday morning....

Most countries don't even have a church where they can worship Jesus!
Many people don't even have clothes that would be considered 'appropriate' to our comfortably churched generation.
Are they not allowed to come as they are, as the Bible instructs us?

I have been listening to this sermon series, as recommended by Tiffany and my heart is being transformed. By the end of the first sermon, I had been so deeply touched, so deeply convicted and so deeply moved that I truly believe it will be hard for me to sit through a "feel good" sermon ever again. This is radical preaching and I am enjoying every second of it.
*Daniel I do not attend a Baptist church, and I want to point out quickly that it is not about the denomination of the church that you are involved in, but about scripture being spoken in truth with boldness. I am not opposed to learning from members of different denominations. In fact, I long to be enlightened by them and hope that they feel the same in return. We all have something to learn from one another, I believe. That is truly what makes us the body of Christ.

Ok so back to this sermon--
The preacher is giving an overview of the things he is going to preach on in the rest of the services. At one point he begins to talk about the words of Matthew 19:23 in which Jesus explains to his disciples that it is hard for a rich man to make it into Heaven. He goes even further by pointing out that ALL OF US ARE RICH. In America, our 2 & 3 yr. old's are rich! Our animals are much richer than most people in other places! He continues on and somewhere in the midst of that I felt it:
Such splendid conviction. The kind that is actually sweet to your soul because you have learned something and will try hard to do something with your new revelation.

So when our friend told us on Saturday night that he would like to visit our church on Sunday and would be wearing his Sunday best, I couldn't help but cringe a little inside. Don't get me wrong here, I know that God is a God who longs to bless our lives. I know that the Lord gave us this house, because every time I explain how we obtained it, He gets ALL the glory. But I cannot allow myself to get wrapped up in things because quite simply God is not a God of things. I find it hard to listen to prosperity preaching. We often forget that although God is love-- He is also jealous, and has so many masculine qualities that we would rather overlook.
Is prosperity for us really what God is concerned with?
I find that hard to believe and would honestly rather serve a God who is concerned with lives, hearts and people rather than money & things.

Think about this with me for a second:
Jesus was born into a family of carpenters. Because of this I can determine that He & Mary were not probably 'well-off' folks. He didn't spend time with the people of money, He made fairly small sacrifices when He visited the temple (according to scripture) and He made it a point to instruct us to focus on those who are poor rather than on worthless riches.

So thinking about all of this as I'm getting ready for service on Sunday morning I immediately felt something inside of me change.
Maybe God is downright offended by me trying to dress in my best to meet Him.
After all, the price of this Sunday dress could have bought an entire family in another country their clothes for this day.
Maybe He is sickened at the idea that we would need to look our best when so many don't have shoes on their feet or clothes for their naked bodies.
For what?
What are we doing this for? Why are we dressing this way?
Acting this way?
As if we are entitled.
God could very well be disgusted with us "rich folk" on Sunday morning.
And it ruptured something inside of me.
Something deep and rooted; but thankfully not too far gone.

Something inside of me is changing. And although the sermon was great, this is the kind of thinking that has been ingrained in my heart for some time now.
Some things are about to change. Something in our lives has got to give.

So while I was sitting in the pew on Sunday with my dress that looked nice but felt uncomfortable, I realized something once more.
I don't invite people over to my house and ask them to wear their best clothes and nicest jewelry. Even for the fanciest dinner party, I would much rather my friends be comfortable so that they can enjoy themselves rather than uncomfortable and miserable. I would say to them, "Just wear anything," because I just want to see them and spend time with them. I'm not worried or concerned about their appearance. I love their company, their friendship, their fellowship with me.

I believe we serve a God much like that.
When invited to His house, we should understand that He just wants us to fellowship with Him. He wants us to be comfortable so our focus is on Him and not on the distraction of how we look, or even how we feel.
It is a freeing thought for me.
For you?

Come as you are to the Lord.
He longs for us to be concerned with matters of the heart because that is His concern. He is a God of hearts. Of people. Of life.
Not of things.
Thank you Lord.

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Anonymous said...

That's a freeing thought for me, too! I believe our God is a God of simplicity - and in my opinion, making sure that we wear our best on Sundays simply complicates our purpose in going to church in the first place.

Firecracker said...

That reminds me of Casting Crowns song....that's exactally why a lot of people don't even want to walk into those church doors! How ridiculous!

Tiffany said...

amen, amen, amen!!!! We are so on the same page it is a bit scary! I love you, my non-Baptist - he, he, bloggy friend!! We really have to figure out a way to meet. We are so similar and so different at the same time. I just know you are the kind of person I would immediately feel comfortable with. Any plans in the future to come lead worship in a Baptist church in NY? {wink}