Summary: A look at the problem with dressing up for church.
THE PAPAW ARGUMENT: You should wear your Sunday best to church because it honors God.
- Put on your tie. Throw on that suit.
- Find a nice dress. Put a bow in your hair.
- Many Christians argue that you should wear your best to church because it honors God. “God is worth of the best we have to offer.”
- This is an argument that I’ve heard Papaw make countless times.
THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS: The only two New Testament passages on what to wear advice us not to dress up.
- We have this tradition – and it’s a tradition that makes some sense. After all, it seems right to give your best to the Lord.
- The problem is passages like our one this evening: Paul instructs the women not to dress up. I’m going to presume this evening that he would say the same thing for the men.
- Marshall Shelley’s rain gauge story [you can find this on Preaching Today].
- The issue here is whether, no matter how well-intentioned, when we dress up for church we are giving God a present that He doesn’t want. Not only doesn’t want, but specifically said not to do.
- Are we giving God a “rain gauge” when we put on our Sunday best?
WHERE TO FOCUS INSTEAD: “Being good” versus “looking good.”
- What is the heart of the matter here? I think there’s a good argument to be made that the core idea in play here is that God is more interested in us being good than in us looking good. That He’s interested in what’s inside us far more than what we’re wearing on the outside.
- “Are you ready for church?” Is that answer to that a matter of having on the right clothes or having a ready heart?
- The Pharisees were doing things for an audience of people.
- Key phrase is Matthew 6:5a – “done for men to see”
- Three examples:
a. Phylacteries and tassels.
- These were things talked about in OT law. The problem wasn’t having them – it was making them bigger and more prominent.
b. Places and seats of honor.
- So everyone could see them looking important.
c. Greetings in the marketplace.
- Receiving honor from everyone in everyday life.
- We often do things for an audience of people.
- We have the desire to be popular and to be liked.
- We’ve come to believe in our society that “image = reality.”
- And so we act like the image and the reputation is the most important thing.
- After the Tiger Woods scandal, the media discussion was centered on the question: “How can he repair his image?” I didn’t hear any asking, “How can he change his life?”
- What are the things we do for public consumption when it comes to our spiritual life?
a. Big Bible for Sunday morning.
b. Suit for Sunday morning.
- Do we wear a suit to honor God or to fit in?
c. Bumper stickers.
d. Fish symbols.
e. Going to church.
- Do I go because I really want to, or because I know people will talk if I miss 2 weeks in a row?
f. Activities at church.