Is That What You’re Wearing?

Have you ever worried about what to wear to church?

Now, many of my friends who are not part of the church-going crowd will answer with a resounding “No!” And, they will probably wonder why anyone would ever worry about what to wear to a church gathering.

However, I’m pretty sure others will answer with a “Yes!”

Too often, we put a great deal of time and energy into selecting the perfect outfit. We desire our clothes to “honor God” (whatever that means?). We want to be modest, yet comfortable. We want to be clean and presentable. But, maybe all of that is just hogwash?

John Wesley,  in “Advice to the People Called Methodists” shared some thoughts on how we should dress. Wesley suggested that our dress be  “cheap, not expensive; far cheaper than others in your circumstances wear, or than you would wear if you knew not God.”

He also encourages modesty and suggests that our clothing should be “grave, not gay, airy, showy; not in the point of the fashion.”

He also had something to say about our accessories:  “Wear no gold . . . no pearls or precious stones; use no curling of hair, or costly apparel, how grave soever. I advise those who are able to receive this saying, buy no velvets, no silks, no fine linen, no superfluities, no mere ornaments, though ever so much in fashion. Wear nothing, though you have it already, which is of a glaring colour, or which is any kind gay, glistening, or showy; nothing made in the very height of fashion, nothing apt to attract the eyes of by-standers.”

He also discouraged the wearing of necklaces, ear-rings, finger rings, and extravagant lace and advises men against “coloured waist-coats, shining stockings, glittering or costly buckles or buttons” and any other “expensive perukes.”

John Wesley wraps up his thoughts on attire with this: “Let our seriousness ‘shine before men,’ not our dress. Let all who see us know that we are not of this world. Let our adorning be that which fadeth not away; even righteousness and true holiness.” 

Within our church culture, we have somehow gotten to the point where we equate the way someone dresses with their spiritual maturity. It’s pretty ridiculous, if you truly think about it. Or we suggest that the way we dress either “honors” or “dishonors God”.

Now, I believe that we should pay attention to the idea of modesty when it comes to dressing on a daily basis (not just for church).

I believe the church should be a place where people feel comfortable to “come as you are”. For some, that means we wear suits or dresses. For others, it might mean dirty jeans and a t-shirt. The important thing is, are we wearing clothes?

Could it be that our cultural standards on church attire actually exclude or discourage others from participating? I meet people on a regular basis whose “Sunday best” would not meet our unwritten expectations for church attire. Could our unwritten dress codes create a roadblock for others?

“God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.” ~1 Samuel 16:7

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