For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. - Galatians 3:27
It DOESN’T matter what you wear to church. It DOES matter what you wear to church. Well, which is it? It doesn’t matter to Jesus what you wear to church, but it does matter to your neighbor.
Every so often the topic comes up about how we should dress for worship. In the “olden days” (like when your grandparents and maybe your parents were your age) women wore dresses to church and men wore suits. After all, they reasoned, how can you not dress your best for the Lord? It shows reverence and respect. Fast forward to today. In many churches, people come dressed pretty casually: ﬂip ﬂops, tank tops, shorts and jeans. Older members who look at the kids dressed this way often remark, “Well someone ought to say something! How can their parents let them dress that way!” The kids, of course, have mastered the art of appealing to some generic love of God: “God doesn’t care what you wear because He just wants you there!” So what to wear to church?
It really doesn’t matter to Jesus. St. Paul writes that Jesus gave Himself up for the church, washing her and making her spotless and presenting her to Himself in splendor as a pure bride with no spots or blemishes or wrinkles. (Ephesian 5:26-27) Paul also says that to be baptized with Christ is to be clothed with Jesus. When you go to church, you are actually wearing Jesus, no matter what clothes you put on that morning. In fact, you are wearing Him every day. Every moment and every day of your life, your Father in heaven looks at you and sees not jeans or suits or dresses or ﬂip ﬂops. He sees Jesus. Perfect, holy, spotless, righteous, Jesus. When you sin, your sins are forgiven. God doesn’t see them either. What clothes you wear doesn’t bother God because you’re wearing Jesus.
At the cross, Jesus was hung naked and in shame for your sins. What happened to his clothes? They were taken by the sinful soldiers who nailed Him there. What a picture! Jesus dies naked, a reminder of sin and shame; you get His clothes! So no worries about how you appear before Jesus! He’s made you look great. He’s covered you with Himself. It doesn’t matter to Jesus what outﬁt you’ve got on since it’s all covered by Him!
But it does matter to your neighbor what you wear. If what you’re wearing in church or what you’re doing while you should be paying attention to God’s Word is a distraction and hindrance to others, then we need to repent and rethink what we’re doing. Young ladies: if the clothing you wear is a distraction to the young men around you, perhaps you should rethink your choice of outﬁts. Maybe the Lord’s house isn’t the best place for that low cut top if it takes someone’s mind off of God’s Word! Young men: if your dressing like a slob makes people shake their head at you instead of paying attention to Pastor, perhaps it’s time to rethink what you throw on for a Sunday Morning. Maybe the Lord’s house isn’t the best place for that death-metal t-shirt with the bloody skull on it! Again, it’s not as if the Lord is offended, but these things distract your brothers and sisters in Christ who, like you, should be in church to hear the Lord’s Word and receive His gifts.
The same goes with cell phones and texting. With whispering and chatting. With going in and out during the worship service. There’s nothing you can do to irritate the Lord. He has His Word and gifts for you! But it might drive your neighbor nuts. So there is room for some repentance. Repent of doing things that take your own mind and heart away from paying attention to the gifts Jesus has for you. Repent of doing things that tempt your neighbors’ minds and hearts away from God’s Word. The Lord knows our ﬂesh has enough distractions in church without us adding to them for ourselves or others!
To those who say it matters how you dress for the Lord, you can conﬁdently answer, “No it doesn’t! To those who say that it doesn’t matter how you show up for church you can say, “Oh yes it does!” Doesn’t matter for Jesus. Matters for your neighbor.When the Lord sees you, He sees no sins. No spots. No blemishes. No wrinkles. No stains. He sees the righteousness which he earned for you on Calvary and in which He has wrapped you up in your Baptism. When your neighbor sees you, well, they should see the same thing: a redeemed child of God who is perfect in God’s sight. But in case they don’t, let’s not give them a reason to think something else! And all together with them, with the suits and the jeans, the ﬂip ﬂops and the dress shoes, the young and the old, the stodgy and the carefree, we can rejoice to be the holy and beautiful bride of Christ. That’s exactly what Jesus has made us and how He sees us. And His righteousness is clothing that looks amazing no matter what the fashion trends or season, whether we are in His house or out in the world. My, but don’t you look great dressed in Jesus!
Created: December 5th, 2011