Impressing God

January 13, 2009 — 13 Comments

I dressed up today.

I don’t dress up very much anymore, but I dressed up today.

I’m wearing brown slacks, crisp white shirt, nice tie, dark jacket, and a nice black overcoat my brother-in-law gave me because he lives in Florida and it never got cold enough for him to wear it, but I live in an ice-box called Northern Colorado, so I have ample opportunities to wear his nice wool overcoat . . . but I digress.

I like to dress up.

I have nothing against suits and ties.

Actually, I take that back.

I hate ties.

It had to be a vindictive woman who decided that the buttons on the front of a man’s dress shirt were so offensive that they must be covered by a noose wrapped around the external carotid artery in a man’s neck (the artery that supplies blood to the exterior of the head, the face, and the greater part of the neck) and the internal carotid artery (the artery that supplies blood to the parts within the cranial and orbital cavities).

That being said, I’m wearing a noose . . . I mean a tie today, because I wanted to look the way bankers think a minister is supposed to look.  I want to make a good impression.

I have a 2 pm appointment with a bank president to discuss some financial options for our congregation.  It’s an important meeting, so I thought that I should dress for the occasion, but I’m conflicted.

I’m not an idiot.  I know when to dress up.  I know why it’s important to dress up for different situations.  I dress up for weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, and occassionally for church.

I dress nice for our church services, but I don’t dress up.

I often preach in jeans.  Nice jeans.  Clean jeans.  Sometimes I actually iron my jeans. 

I wear a nice collared shirt.

Polished shoes.

I just don’t preach in a suit and tie.

Some of you are disappointed in me.  That’s fine.  I still love you. 

Some of you are more disappointed in the fact that I don’t preach in a suit than you are in the fact that your congregation has reached no one for Christ in the last year, or in the fact that your congregation has no plans to help kids with AIDS in 2009, or in the fact that your congregation tolerates sin in the Leadership, or in the fact that you’ve never told the guy next door about Jesus.  That’s not fine.  I’m not sure I like you.

I love God. 

I absolutely love God.

He is my passion.  My life.  My purpose.  My obsession.  And vice versa.

I want to please God, but I don’t feel the need to impress him.

Actually, that’s not true.

I do want to impress him, but with the things that actually impress him.

God is not impressed with our fancy clothes.

To the prophet Samuel God said, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

And God does not want us to be overly impressed with others’ fancy clothes. 

Through James the Lord says, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”  (James 2:1-4)

When we judge someone for how they dress, we do a bad thing.

Take it from the One who made man: Clothes don’t make the man; the heart makes a man.

And clothes don’t impress God.  He sees through them, to the heart.

I hear what you’re saying, “Doesn’t God deserve our best?”  To which I say, “Yes.”

Now let me ask you a question, “Who decided that ‘the best’ was a silk suit and expensive tie?” 

Ever been to a church service in a third world country?  I have and their “best” clothes are a mixture of old t-shirts, tattered jeans, and sandals if they’re lucky enough to have shoes that fit . . . and I think they looked marvelous . . . and so did God.

Church is not about making an appearance or about our appearance.  Church is about being God’s “called out” people.  Church is about being the body of Christ.  Church is about being followers of Christ.

I want to impress God by wearing Christ as I work, play, eat, write, speak, and meet with bankers.

Well, that’s that.

I think my tie is too tight.

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13 responses to Impressing God

  1. 

    You know what’s really cool about being able to read your blog Arron? I can hear you saying at as I read it. Kinda cool, huh? I still get to hear your sermons all the way down here in Florida (PS it’s cold today), while you’re still up in the arctic north. Just one more thing for me to thank The Lord for today.!!:) Angie

  2. 

    When my daughter Mandy was 3 she saw one of her daddy’s ties hanging on a set of hooks by our front door. She looked at me and said, “Oh no. Daddy forget his leash.”
    🙂
    I love the way her mind works!

  3. 

    Great thoughts, Arron. I can’t personally bring myself to wear shorts or a T-shirt to church, but I love that people do and feel comfortable worshiping God in them.

    Just as the more conservative dressers need not equate your casualness with a casualness for God, we need to be careful to not equate their formality as a substitute for authenticity or some form of hypocrisy or Phariseeism. I have heard too many young people and young hip pastors (not you) take this a step too far and start pointing fingers and creating division instead of promoting unity.

    Secret Disclosure: I too enjoy dressing up (even wearing a tie if it fits well), I just don’t do it for church very often (not even when I preach).

  4. 

    Last sunday I preached in a skimask…
    I was mister anonymous, a drive by do-gooder.

    anywho. I wear a do-rag mostly except when I pray, that’s about as crazy as I get, unless you count the camo pants as crazy.

    blend in! The gospel message is controversial enough without my own desires fighting for people’s attention. I wear a tie to church when I do communion meditation, yet wear no such tie, and cutoff fatigues when I preach downtown. Who cares? I don’t, so I do what I can get away with, if they people I’m working with are cool with it then, then the people who don’t care aren’t there to see it anyway.

    Did I mention I like chocolate?

  5. 

    I concur with much of what you say for God is more concern about the heart. But this can apply to how we dress and appear to other people. Obviously, if people are poor, then we should not judge them when they come to church. I recall in my youth seeing poor people coming to church in their best Sunday clothes that they had. Interestingly, it still looks better than what the average person wears today going to church. So we go to motives. Why do people dress so sloppy today? Is it because they are poor or because they are sloppy in their habits, their thinking and their discipline. I don’t think Jesus and His disciples went out of their way to upset the sensibilities of his audience by what they wore. To do so would have detracted from the message that He was teaching. Therefore we should neither dress up nor dress down, but rather do all things to glorify God and build each other up.

  6. 

    Amen Arron!! I remember the first Sunday I preached … dare I say it … without a jacket. It was August … in Florida!!! I received quite a written tongue lashing from a “man of God” who felt he was setting me back on the straight and narrow following my departure from all that was good and right! I asked him what I preached about … He couldn’t tell me. I asked him about three visitors that I knew were there (it wasn’t a large congregation) … he didn’t even know they existed.
    It is so sad when people are more interested in the externals than the lost and dying. I feel very blessed to be serving a church now that doesn’t really care if you wear jeans or shorts or a three-piece suit. They just want to make sure you hear about Jesus!
    Oh – by the way … I got rid of the tie too!!!

  7. 

    Points thoughtfully made and well-taken. I personally enjoy seeing when the men go up to serve and they each exhibits a different level of formality in clothing – this speaks to me of our “real” unity, as opposed to a socially enforced conformity.
    Having said that, I am very aware that some folks (call them “weaker brothers” if you must) are offended when communion servers, public pray-ers, and preachers don’t wear ties. I’m not sure why they equate ties with respect for God, but that’s just how they feel, and shame on me if I ignore them.

  8. 

    It is not only us that want to impress God here in America. If you go to church on a Sunday morning in Liberia Africa – they dress to the hilt with what they have. The woman put on their best dress (granted it may be the only one they own), they put on makeup. The men dress up in their one suit and best gleaming shoes. Then they walk through mud and dirt to get to church and hopefully aren’t to dirty. One they are there to present themselves in their best and impress, and two they like the west and want to be like us.

  9. 

    Great food for thought, Arron! God does judge our hearts and our motives. The struggle over outward appearances has extremists on both sides. While I have no desire to offend a brother or sister in Christ, if they are in danger of leaving Christ because I don’t wear a tie…well, they have deeper spiritual problems than my tie can address.

    On the other hand, I have no desire to conform to the pattern of this world. I am just trying to follow the Christ where He leads, when He leads, dressed as He leads. While living in a relatively conservative (church) area, I did the jacket & tie thing. Living in Florida, I wear dress slacks and a collared shirt. to the formal, I can dress formally, to the less formal, I can dress comfortably. I can dress in all manner of dress so that by my dress, I may win those with whom I am around.

    BTW, I wore a full suit & tie today. Had to go to court as a potential witness. After I left, I put on my “We Are Marshall” tee shirt and jeans and came to the office.

    Be God’s,
    Scott

  10. 

    Arron: I can’t believe this got 9 responses. I guess maybe it’s even replaced the different styles of music!
    I have a question of a completely different topic. Have you even read the fiction book, The Shack, & if so what did you think of it? I for one had a really hard time & was ready to just toss it,mainly due to Papa, but made myself read to the end & actually liked it then. I’m thinking there’s a weblink, maybe The Shack.com which I hope to go to just to see what other comments those who have read it may have. Vinnie.

  11. 

    I came across something “fitting” while reading Fasting,by Jentezen Franklin. “I would love to see the day when, if a Christian had to, he or she would rather go to church in pajamas than miss hearing God’s Word”.

  12. 
    brother joseph May 31, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    “Now let me ask you a question, “Who decided that ‘the best’ was a silk suit and expensive tie?”

    “It’s an important meeting, so I thought that I should dress for the occasion, but I’m conflicted.” “I’m not an idiot. I know when to dress up.”

    Amazing.

  13. 

    You dress up for weddings, funerals, graduations ceremonies and occassionally for Church? Nice – respect for human beings more so than for the Lord (very sad).

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