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Dressing for church: Some years ago when we ran a business, we hired a young man who was trying to re-claim his life. He had been involved with drugs and alcohol, was living on the street. He had seen the error of his ways. He interview for the job with a clean pair of jeans and a nice pullover, the only decent clothes he had. When he began talking about God, knowing I was a Christian, I invited him to go to church with me. He must have been saving his earnings for some time because he was much too tall to have simply found someone from whom to borrow his “suit”. He arrived dressed in the finest of biker gear. His long hair was clean and neat as always, and he stuck out like a sore thumb. I was ashamed that my congregation could not see someone who wanted to turn his life around and desperately needed encouragement. I was grateful that he was not turned off by this experience, but rather decided while my church was not for him, God was still available.

I think we need to dress appropriately for church. I can’t see skimpy or provocative clothing, but I feel clean and neat are much more important than dressing up. Some of us just don’t have, or can afford, the wardrobe that others have. I would much rather see someone in church with jeans, than to skip church because they don’t have a “Sunday” dress or suit. And we all at church need to be empathic when someone arrives that if a bit different. As the New Testament states, we might be entertaining angles unaware.

The way we dress surely says something about the way we regard our activities planned for the day? So it is not important how we dress for worship that matters as how we think about the significance of our worship. For many hat will mean dressing as well as we can, and for others expressing the closeness of our intimacy with Jesus; each should judge for himself and not make rules for others; for myself I am a "dresser" but others say its just becasue i'm old and fussy! Michael

I agree with Alice. God sees us for who we are. Casual clothes are okay; clean and modest. God talks to us about modesty and cleanliness. I fear if we go back to "dressed up" we will find ourselves trying to "out-dress" each other. So many of us can't afford fancy; that doesn't mean God doesn't want us in His house of worship. To come before The King all we need is a desiring heart; a heart begging for his forgiveness; a heart seeking his renewal.

My father dresses up because he sees it as a form of worship, an outward expression. For me, I noticed when I was young and began to dress as nice as I could that there was almost a sort of pride I had about being so nicely dressed especially when others weren't and I thought surely this pride is more ugly to God then any type of dress. So I stopped really dressing up and since then only dress more or less appropriate to the congregation (say visiting a conservative church in the South versus a youthful church in San Diego).

I often think about how Jesus told us not to worry about our clothing as the pagans do when he said, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things..." (Mat 6:31-32) I realize that back then most people worried about the physical need for clothing more than styles, etc, but not everybody, even back then, and surely these words were/are intended to the rich people as well as the poor and I think God's word is broad enough to have several meanings to people in different situations. Each of us should think what that verse is saying to us in our own situation. For me it actually helps me be relieved that I don't need to put much emphasis on what kind of clothing I should wear or worry about being fashionable, wearing brand names or wearing only what is "in".

We do see clothing is important in some way to God as we see in Ezekiel in the Temple and the new white robes in Revelations, but I think Jesus is more concerned with our hearts. In fact, we should remember God's original will for man, as seen in the Garden of Eden, was for no clothing at all.

So I think each should wear what he or she determines before God is appropriate. Although I would request of the women to please consider what you wear from the men's point of view. Even what has become common style now a days can actually be sort of provocative (especially tight jeans/pants or more "open" blouses, etc) and many guys in church are really trying to be very careful about any wrongful thoughts, and there are other guys in church who are really trying to overcome big challenges in this area and this doesn't help (especially in church!). I'm sure many women wear these things because they are stylish without intending any trouble, they just haven't thought about it, but please do, even if your husband is OK with you wearing it, think about other guys out there who might be struggling.

Kary, Kelly, Alice, Michael--thanks for taking time to share your stories and thoughts about clothing and dress this morning. Clothing is such a weird thing--when I am studying history with the children and we learn about some of the uncomfortable or seemingly ridiculous looking garb folks used to wear, it makes me wonder about us all! It's hard for me to fathom that showing an ankle used to be scandalous and that men wore powdered wigs. Isn't it weird how we can look back at pictures of styles a few decades ago think them ridiculous, yet we cannot help but remain somewhat sensitive to the style of the times.

I believe the posture and purity of a person's heart is the bottom line with God. Having said that, I do think there IS an inside/outside connection and it's tricky to tease out all the implications of what that might look like for different people. God did not choose to make us completely spiritual beings. He chose to give us physical bodies to care for and express ourselves with. God chose to place us within the confines of a specific time and culture. We can't just divorce ourselves from all that is physical and say it's completely irrelevant. Our outside and inside should be interwoven in a way that glorifies him.

I love that song "From the Inside Out" by Hillsong because I feel like it touches on that beautiful connection:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwJEdo1FlMo&feature=PlayList&p=92F3BF950AFBB8F1&index=0&playnext=1

The way we care for (or neglect) our physical bodies speaks volumes about our inner lives. It kind of goes back to what we were discussing yesterday too with regard to physical posture when praying. Ideally, I think we most glorify God when the WHOLE picture (body, spirit, soul, whatnot) is all harmonious and in sync.

Having said that, I think we need to be careful to allow that these "expressions" will vary greatly from person-to-person and from generation-to-generation. We all look different, have different personalities, dress different, decorate our homes different, raise our children different, prefer different music, have different giftings..... I believe the Lord delights in our diversity AND in our interdependence--His creation DECLARES this reality better than anything I can try to articulate. He is not a "one-size fits all" God when it comes to individual expression.

I think it becomes a problem when we get judgmental or self-righteous about our own preferences or perceptions of what is right, proper, or beautiful. When we start stacking our expressions up against others in a competitive way (and we are so prone to this), then we cause division and disunity in His body and within ourselves.

We need to be sensitive to others and give each other a lot of latitude and grace. We can have an attitude of pride in our "right" to dress down as easily as we can be judgmental about others not "dressing up." Either way, it can become a distraction and cause division when God is after "bigger fish" like justice and mercy and faithfulness (Matt 23:23) After all, isn't that what Jesus was beating up the Pharisees about in yesterday's reading--gnat straining and such?? Gnat straining is EASY while justice, mercy, and faithfulness are tough bedfellows to wake up with daily. ; )

One small aside--I do think there is biblical precedence for not making oneself a "show-piece" at church, which I believe is an area of vulnerability for women in particular:

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. 1 Timothy 2:8-10

I have been distracted by women AND men at church because of their clothing, jewelry, perfume, or manner of carrying themselves. I am also distracted by people who arrive late in what I consider to be a kind of showy way. No man is an island...

Just being honest and trying to think through things here,

Hello everyone,
About dressing: I agree with what you all have shared.

When we are a child of GOD, how we carry ourselves outside should greatly resonate with who we are inside as well. Nothing about us should give reasons for someone to stumble in their faith (either because they are new to faith or they are still exploring or learning about the Great GOD we serve). Also never let our outward appearance cause someone to sin either in thoughts or deeds.

When in the house of worship, we should be dressed such that we get lost in the crowd or no one notices us. This helps us too, to focus on our prayer with our GOD and not be bothered about how great we look or how others think we look either.

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