What Should I Wear This Sunday?

April 28, 2015

The Bowman newsletter is in the mail. Here’s my contribution …

God is near you right now. As David in Psalm 139 says, it doesn’t matter where you go, you can’t escape God’s presence. The Twenty-third psalm hints at this as well. The fact that God is always leading and caring for us points to his incessant presence in our lives. The last part of Philippians 4:5 simply says, “The Lord is at hand,” or near. We can’t escape God’s presence. He is near.

On balance, God is transcendent. Transcendence speaks of the fact that God is way beyond us. He is immanent, that is, he is near us. But he is also far above us. Psalm 97:9 says, “For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah also wrote, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;” You get the point. God is big. Really big.

Jeremiah 23:24 balances both truths: “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.” He is always with us (immanent) because he is everywhere (transcendent).

Typically when we hang with our families, we dress with comfort and function in mind. The clothes we wear around the house are functional whether we are raking leaves or napping on a Sunday afternoon. On the other hand, when we are with strangers we typically dress up to some degree. I know this concept is fading. Still, many of us usually spruce up before heading to Walmart.

Even though the idea of dressing up is disappearing in our culture, it is still prevalent. Politicians dress up. The TV news is delivered by people in suits, ties, and dresses. Many professional types still gussy up.

So, how should we dress on a Sunday morning? Blessedly, there is no right answer to this question. 1Cor. 8:8 says “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.” Let me tweak this verse to fit what I’m writing about. “Clothes will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not dress up, and no better off if we do.”

It is my view that those of us who delight in the immanence of God tend to stress causal when attending church. God is our Father, and just as we are more causal around our homes, so we are more casual at church. Relationship is the implicit emphasis. Clothes don’t make a bit of difference to God. He’s more interested in our hearts than he is our clothes. Amen.

On the other hand, those of us who delight in the transcendence of God tend to dress more formally on Sunday. Just as we’ll don a tie when dining at an upscale restaurant, so we’ll wear a tie at church. We are going to meet with the King of the Universe. We want our clothes to say that we recognize that this is a special time. Other than weddings, funerals, and the occasional upscale public function, the only time I wear a tie is at church. I’m meeting the King, and I want my clothes to reflect this.

Here is the thing: there is no right or wrong with this issue. Certainly we should allow our brothers and sisters to dress as their theology dictates. More than this, we all hope that when a stranger visits with us on a Sunday morning, there will be someone dressed as he is. God is delighted whether we show up in suits or sweatpants.


3 Responses to “What Should I Wear This Sunday?”

  1. Jim Kelly Says:

    Amen pastor, you are absolutely right. It makes no difference. To share, before I was a believer and just started attending church, a guest pastor was speaking that day. My 3rd time in church in 30 years and the “visitor” walk up and introduce himself to me and my wife and said, “wish I could wear short pants to church”. It was only one of those nice July days of 80/90 by 10 o’clock. Surprised my wife when I wanted to go to church the following week but, because of pastor Bredow’s teaching, and the Lord’s leading, I am still there 20 plus years later. The Lord wants us to grow and be a part of His family, and what a shame to chase someone away because of the way they dress. BTW, I don’t wear short pants any more.

  2. Jim Kelly Says:

    Also, would never criticize someone who did wear short pants, tank top, what ever, I want him/her there to hear the gospel and accept the Lord, not critique their clothes.

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