10.07.2009

How to Dress For Success-Christian Version

Do you ever wish there was an appendix in the Bible, somewhere after Revelation, but before the concordance and maps that contained some additional "How-to guides"? I think one that I would look for is, "How to Dress for the Occasion." I mean we have man's opinion on the idea, but what is God's? Now before you dismiss me thinking I'm some upstart kook trying to breed rebellion in the church, let me give you my pedigree.

I was raised in church, third generation to be precise. Dedicated as an infant in the flowy white gown with all the pomp a good Pentecostal girl should have. Sunday school, Christian school, summer camp, convention, you name it I was in attendance. My grandma was on every committee and board, a real pillar. My mom taught Sunday School and even set up the communion table a time or two. I've been seeped in this thing since the womb. Our Sunday morning dressing routine included fancy dress, hose, and shoes that clicked when you walked through the foyer. I had play dresses and church dresses in my closet and it was on Saturday night having my hair rolled for Sunday morning service that I was told, "Beauty is pain." Sacrifice begins young.

Okay, fast forward, now I'm all grown up and married to a pastor. Most people realize that now the stakes are even higher. How does a pastor's wife dress for church? Man I struggle with that one. A few years back it all came to a screeching halt when I found myself in an intense crisis of faith. (no, it wasn't over how to dress for church) I had some serious issues to work through and crucial questions for God. It started to be difficult to get up and go to church on Sunday mornings. My heart was broken, my spirit crushed and standing there looking at my Sunday best, I felt like I was picking out a costume. Dressing to impress became a struggle. I wanted God to take me and make me whole again, not put on a mask and parade in front of the church congregation like everything was fine. My insides felt like rags, but I was expected to wear finery. "By whom?" I asked. Is that what God required of me, or did He simply want me?

Even now, there's an unsettling between the traditionals, who say we honor God when we come to Him in our best, and the contemporaries, who believe that God meets us where we're at. Its confusing. I mean God is my King, but my Friend. The Creator of all that is, but my Father. Seemingly contrasting ideas, but God cannot be put in a box, or described with mere words. His expectations have always been that we give Him our best, but not in a showy, outer appearance sort of way. His eyes throw aside the trappings we disguise ourselves in and cut deep to our heart motivations. We subscribe to certain avenues of belief to conceal our "inside" issues. Ripped jeans and Easter hats can be equally dishonoring to Him if used as a disguise. He wants us to come to Him in honesty and purity of heart.

Colossians 3:9-14 says, Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ. So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Sounds like the way to dress to impress God has nothing at all to do with what is hanging on this outer shell we call a body. Let's stop stressing so much over the things that will pass and lift our eyes up to what really matters.

1 comment:

Jessica Howerton said...

You know I love this! You know I do.. You put my very thoughts so much more eloquently then I could ever try to..

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