We have recently noticed a trend in many churches. The apparent judging of people based on their outward appearance. It has been suggested, by a Pastor I know that the Bible tells us how we should dress and that is partially true. The Bible has a few verses that apply directly to our dress and appearance..
1 Timothy 2:9-10 9In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
1 Peter 3: 2-5 2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
So, the Bible does speak to what we should wear in that it tells us to dress modestly; what it does not tell us is that we must wear our finest or best clothes, or that everyday clothes or work clothes are unsuitable in Church. That is a belief unsupported by scripture. In fact when we look at some scripture a rather different picture emerges..
1My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him….
Not so in many churches though. Righteousness, faithfullnes and service don’t matter unless you also “look the part”. God is more concerned with the heart and conduct of a man or women then he is with their outward appearance. As we seek to obey God’s word and be more like Christ we would do well to follow his example and see a little more clearly…
1 Samuel 16:6-7
6And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.
7But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
We also need understand, not only does God look upon the heart and not the outward man but also that we, his followers are to be known by our actions, works, conversation and faith. We don’t and cannot wear our faith; we are to live it.
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Apparently, people forget the lesson that should have been learned in the person of Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was a college student, a young Republican, loved and known by his community. He was a man that any parent was glad to have their daughter bring home and any church was glad to have in attendance…..He was also a serial killer that admitted to killing 30 women.
My wife was once asked not to participate in soul winning visitation because a teenager complained that she was wearing jeans! Some of my own family members, who know enough about the Bible that they should know better, think that people who dress outside the norm have no one to blame but themselves when they are mistreated or ill used. Those who think we can tell what we need to know about a person by their outward appearance are not much different than a racist. You judge a man by the content of their character and not by their skin color or manner of dress. What of the man that has no nice clothes? What of the woman that has no dress? Are they to feel unworthy, unwelcome or unfit for service? Are they really to look around and see from others how to dress and then go buy new clothes? What if they are not comfortable in a dress or a suit? Is their comfort any less important than those who want them to “look the part”? Also, we need to understand that if we are going to touch on the concept of a “worldly standard” that we need to understand that Shirts and ties didn’t exist in Biblical times.
There is NO such thing as Christian fashion or a mode of dress that is universally accepted as “Christian”. In point of fact all fashions adhere to worldly standards and are made and manufactured by secular designers and companies. SO, no matter what clothing we wear, we are in fact adhering to worldly standards. Also, what is the more worldly standard dressing in a manner that immediately gets you more scrutiny and less trust or dressing like a banker? Does the Bible state anywhere that the wearing of black is wrong? Pink? Blue? A person wears the colors that they like. A person wears the clothes in which they feel comfortable or that they can afford. My family has stood up for a church and tried to encourage people to come to it by telling them about how accepted we had felt. We had visitors come with us to church that were interested because we told them to come “just as they are” and that God will deal with the rest. Any church is going to age, wither and die if it doesn’t find ways to engage the culture without compromising Scripture or Doctrine. There are many issues that we must hang our hats on and then there are some issues that shouldn’t even be issues. We need to ask ourselves if what we think and believe is in line with God’s word.
1My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths