I am extremely disappointed in the condition and appearance of many church buildings nowadays. It is obvious that when given a choice in decoration many churches have not gone with the best. They have chosen plain clear windows instead of a magnificent stained glass. The carpet in most buildings is thin and easily wears out when there is a lot of traffic. When it comes to the pulpit and pews, many churches have chosen the cheap and plain looking oak rather than the more visually pleasing mahogany. Many of these buildings are constructed of brick, even though it is preferable to use an elegant stone. It seems in nearly every way our church buildings have been built with inferior materials. We have not given God our best, and we should be ashamed to show up on Sunday to worship God in a building constructed of second-rate goods.
Obviously, I was exaggerating above, but I wanted to see what it would sound like if I used the argument many people use regarding Sunday dress and applied it to our church buildings. I have grown up hearing that we should give God our best, and I agree, but how do we apply this principle? Does it only apply to our clothing? Should it also apply to our buildings and worship centers? Does God not want us to spare any expense when it comes to dressing ourselves or constructing buildings for worship? How far should we take this? Perhaps, we should buy a really nice car and only drive it on Sundays to worship because we want to give God our best?
I do think we should give God our best, but I don’t believe God is all that concerned with external appearances. In fact, I think we create a false image of God when we imagine him to be a host who stands at the door checking to see whether or not our apparel meets his dress code. Another problem with demanding a certain dress code is that the dress code is always something that humans devise. God never gives us a dress code in the Bible. In the Bible, men wore robes and sandals. Would this be proper attire? If Jesus worshipped in a robe and sandals, and we are to be like Jesus, then shouldn’t we wear a robe and sandals on Sunday? God commanded Moses to remove his sandals when he encountered God at the burning bush. Should we remove our shoes before worship?
In several places throughout Scripture it seems that God is more in favor of dressing down than dressing up. In 1 Timothy 2:9 Paul writes, “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.” Wouldn’t wearing gold and pearls be giving God our best, and yet Paul instructs worshippers to avoid this type of apparel. The focus of worship should never be on us or what we are wearing, but it should always be on God.
If giving our best is not about what we wear or the buildings we use, then what is it about? It’s about ourselves. What God truly desires is that we give him our whole hearts and hold nothing back. He wants our lives to be transformed. A life dedicated to justice, mercy, and following God is more pleasing than a thousand rams or ten thousands of rivers of oil (Micah 6:6-8). The problem with judging others based upon clothing is that we could be looking down upon a person for wearing a t-shirt on Sunday morning when they have spent more time in study and prayer throughout the week than we have. We could be critical of someone’s clothing when they have done more to feed the poor and help the needy than we have done. The Bible never says, “Blessed are the well dressed”, but it does warn us about judging people based upon what they wear (James 2:1-7).
As followers of God, we should be more concerned with the inside than with the outside. The next time we feel the need to comment on a piece of clothing, we should ask ourselves, “Are we properly clothed?” I’m not talking about suits and ties or dresses. I’m talking about the clothing that Paul is concerned about.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
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