At one congregation where my wife and I labored, I was introduced to "Come As You Are Parties." One late evening we received a call inviting us to such a party. We politely declined the invitation. The caller assured us that such gatherings were just "good clean fun." I cannot attest to the truthfulness of that statement because we never attended any of the "hilarious gatherings." I cringe to think what such gatherings might be like in our day and age when so many seem to be lacking in their sense of morality and modesty.
But, that phrase often comes to memory as I assemble with the church. It seems that we have adopted a "Come as you are" attitude when it comes to attire which we wear when we gather to worship God. In these remarks, please remember that I am not referring to the working clothes that our men and women must wear whenever they are either immediately coming to services from work or are going to work following services.
When I was growing up, I often heard preachers warn of extravagant styles of clothing. Ladies especially would try to out-dress one another. Not so today. It seems that the opposite is often true. So many seem to be opting for the "worst dressed" award. Shamefacedness (1 Timothy 2:9) is no longer practiced by many, neither men nor women, in the church. It is sometimes embarrassing to even glance toward some of the young ladies who seem to delight in displaying parts of their bodies that should be covered in public at all times. I wonder what parents are thinking about when they permit their boys and girls to wear such attire. It certainly is not bringing them up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).
A good lady recently said to me that she thought we were placing too much emphasis on what people wear when they come to worship. She either has her eyes closed or has chosen to absolutely block it from her mind. Naturally, she, like so many others, quickly reminded me that God looks at the heart of man and not on his outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Well, we ought to be reminded that we are not God. We are affected by what we see outwardly. Man can be distracted by what others wear. Thus, it behooves us all, men and women, to adorn ourselves in an appropriate manner wherever we are; and, that would include when we come to worship.
Our reverence to God is surely reflected by what we wear as much as by what we say and do. Worshipping "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) demands that our minds be properly focused. All of us should feel responsible toward one another and conduct ourselves in a manner that would not prevent others from worshipping scripturally.
I also serve as an elder where I preach. Several years ago we felt it necessary to place the following statement below the names of those who publicly serve the congregation: "The elders ask those honored who serve in public worship to dress appropriately." Some either do not read the bulletin or they choose to ignore the pleas of the elders. Occasionally, the matter becomes so serious that we must admonish, and, in a few instances, have been forced to remove from serving those who refuse to submit to the reasonable requests of their overseers (Hebrews 13:17).
Surely, we are capable of choosing attire that is appropriate when worshipping God. We seem to have no trouble choosing what to wear to weddings, funerals, and other important events. Why would we do otherwise when coming into an assembly where the Lord is present (Matthew 18:20).
Men, it will not kill you to present yourself in neat, clean attire. Ladies, take pride in yourselves. Make yourselves modestly attractive when coming to the assembly of God's people. Parents, set the example and require modesty in your sons and daughters. Don't accept the "everybody's doing it" excuse. Those who serve God with all their being (Luke 10:27) will practice modesty at all times. Those who profess godliness will live by a higher standard than those of the world (1 Timothy 2:10).
One day, we must all answer for our deeds done in the flesh, not to the elders or preachers or parents, but to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). What will our answer be? -225 Knollwood Drive, Wadsworth, OH 44281.
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