Christians – What are you wearing? Your Sunday best?

Christians – What are you wearing?  Your Sunday best?  Uh Oh.  Is this going to be about wearing clothes that are “appropriate” for Christians?  Like long dresses for women?  Suits and ties for men?  If that’s what your concerned about, don’t worry.  I’m talking something else entirely.  Something that really matters.  Something that makes a difference.

Christians - what are you wearing?Sure – there’s this “thing” about wearing your “Sunday best”.  As if Jesus will be offended or reject us if we don’t wear the right clothes.  On top of that, “Sunday best” sounds like we should have special clothes – just for Sunday.  I can just imaging Jesus’ thoughts about that.  I’d think something along the lines of – sell your Sunday best clothes, and give all the proceeds to the poor.

After all, Jesus spent lots of time with the sinners.  The bottom of the social order.  Prostitutes.  People with physical problems like leprosy. The “unclean”.  Did Jesus ever look at what they were wearing?  Did Jesus ever ask any of them to dress properly before He’d spend time with them?  Or heal them?  No.  We don’t read of that even one time.

What are you wearing?  Why does it matter?

OK – so when I ask, Christians – What are you wearing? – what do I mean?

Actually, it’s from something Paul wrote about how we should clothe ourselves.  That sounds like the Sunday best thing again.  Not to worry – it’s not.  While the Greek word is translated as “clothe” – it can also be translated as “put on”.  Either would have worked.

However, I suspect that with many people today, clothe is probably better.  Why?  Because we tend to have this overwhelming desire, or is it need, to define people by what we wear?

Here’s what I mean.  A stranger looks at you, and one of the first things they look at is what you are wearing.  And then they make decisions about you, based on what you’re wearing.  It happens all the time.  We’re pigeon-holed into some social / economic class, based on the clothes we wear.

It’s like out clothes are so intertwined with who we are that we become inseparable from our clothes.

But remember, Jesus didn’t care about that.  He didn’t care what anyone wore.  Paul was equally unconcerned in the passage below.

Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Yeah – this is what Paul said are the important things to “wear” – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

By telling us to wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, Paul was saying that those things should be such a part of us that it’s what people see when they look at us.

Christians – What are you wearing?  Who is this addressed to?

Before going any further, I want to make it clear who I’m addressing here.

Yes – I’m saying that for someone who wants to go to church, there’s no need to worry about wearing “Sunday best”.  It’s not the clothes that define who we are to Jesus.  And as Christian, why should it be any different for us?  There is, of course, the matter of public decency.  I’m not throwing those things out.  But I am questioning the concept that anything acceptable for normal life is somehow unacceptable for someone who wants to know Jesus.

Why should it matter to us, as Christians, as followers of Christ, what someone wears when they come to our church?  Do we want to reject someone who really wants to know Jesus – but can’t afford “Sunday best” kinds of clothes?  Are we going to look at what someone is wearing – and tell them, sorry but that’s not good enough?  I have to say – that’s not very Christ-like.

So – this message is for those of us who are Christians.  Who go to church already.  It’s to tell us what kind of “clothes” Jesus cared about.  It’s the same kind that Paul wrote about in the passage we just looked at.

And if we wear those “clothes” ourselves, then we wouldn’t be fixated on what kind of fashion clothing other people wear.

We can tell that Paul was addressing us – followers of Jesus – when we look at the passage in context.

Rules for Holy Living

Col 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ

Yes – this is for the person who is a Christian.  Not the new people, looking for Christ.  Those who already are Christian.

set your hearts on things above
Set your minds on things above

There goes that Sunday best thing.  Setting our hearts and minds on things in Heaven takes away the the idea that we should focus on the here and now things of this earth.  And that includes clothes.  Like the Sunday best tie and jacket.  Like long dresses for women.

As I said, Jesus didn’t look at clothes.  Jesus didn’t look at social status.  Unless it was maybe in light of the reality that those in the higher social / economic layers tended to think they didn’t need Jesus.

Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander …
put on the new self

Get rid of those ideas that social status, money, how people dress, Etc. are important.

And yes, admit that we may have negative feelings about people who come to “our” church and don’t dress in a way that we think is appropriate.  Again – if Jesus didn’t care about what you wore, why do we care so much?

Notice I wrote “our” church.  In quotes.  Because the church doesn’t belong to us.  It’s Jesus’ church.  Not ours.  His.  Not our rules.  His rules.

Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience

If compassion for others, kindness towards others, and patience with others are so ingrained in us that they are like clothing, then we will be able to focus on the things above.  We’ll be able to focus on the things of Heaven.

If we have humility, then we won’t look down on those who can’t afford to dress the way we do.  Oh – and don’t forget about over all these virtues put on love.

Like a coat goes over our clothes, and they can’t be seen until the coat is off – love is the first thing people should see in us.  And then, “underneath” love is compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Col 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
teach and admonish one another with all wisdom

Yes – with the peace of Christ, we should look at others in a different light.  Instead of being concerned with what someone wears, whether or not they have their Sunday best, we are concerned with showing them love.

And if there are still some among us, some who are call themselves Christian, we should lovingly teach and admonish them about this question of “what are you wearing?”

Conclusion – Christians – What are you wearing?

Earlier, I said this was for Christians.  Let me say a bit more on that.

By Christian, I mean those who really are Christian.  Someone who wants to and tries to follow Jesus.  Not someone who was baptized and thinks everything’s good now – I can do whatever I want.  Not what I’ve called “pop tart Christians“.

However, there’s also a message in here for anyone who visits a church and is made to feel like they don’t belong – because they aren’t dressed “right”.  Because they walk in and it feels like people are wondering, “what are you wearing?” – and deciding that you aren’t “their kind” of people.

You may have figured out – I’m questioning whether people who do that – and think that – are Jesus’ kind of people.

Asking “what are you wearing” or is that your “Sunday best” – that should be part of our old selves.  In fact, it must become part of our old selves.  I get it – it’s different.  It’s hard.  I’ve been at those kinds of churches.  My parents were those kind of people.

In a way, maybe I was fortunate.  When I first started working, it was with mainframe computer operating systems.  I rarely dealt with people.  I could wear pretty much what I wanted.  I used to go to work in cut-off jeans and a tee-shirt.  People only cared about what I knew – how well I could keep things running – not with how I dressed.

Over time, I moved up in the organization, but still kept with the “casual” dress code.  Even when I went to staff meeting with the president (at a large university) I still wore jeans and tennis shoes.  Again – it was about what I knew and could do.  All the other people had to dress nice – the Sunday best kind of thing.

So when I go to church, even today, my “Sunday best” is the only kind of clothes I have.  Jeans, casual shirts, and usually tennis shoes.  God doesn’t seem to mind.  The people in my Bible study class don’t seem to mind.  And I don’t care what they wear either.  I don’t look at anyone in church and ask – what are you wearing?  Is that your Sunday best?  Or is that the best you can do?

No – I’m just happy they are there.  That’s the “new self“.

We love people because they are created by God.  And because He loves them.  As He loves us.  Not because of what we wear.

So for all of us who are Christian – do we practice what Paul wrote?  Do we practice what Jesus portrayed in His life?  Are we the kind of people that someone who can’t afford the “Sunday best” will want to go to church with?  Or do we look at them, ask ourselves what are you wearing, and make them feel unwelcome?

And to the person looking for a welcoming, loving church.  If at first you don’t find one – don’t give up.  They do exist.  Try again.  Just as you’re looking for Jesus – He’s looking for you.  Keep looking.  You will find the right place – and you will be found.

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