The Word: God deserves the best
Published 1:55 pm Friday, September 22, 2023
Did you know dressing fancy like for church didn’t become popular until the 19th century? It’s true. While most folks would bathe before coming to church and possibly put some “smell good” on, wearing fancy dresses, hats, suits and ties didn’t become popular until around the Industrial Revolution. Would it also interest you in knowing the concept behind dressing up for church had nothing to do with theology and everything to do with trying to woo the upperclass folk? In fact, John Wesley quite often wrote about this concern saying fancy clothes and the wearing of gold jewelry were sinful. “Let your dress be cheap, as well as plain” – John Wesley. Why did he feel this way? Because fine clothes separated the rich from the poor. The problem, however, was in how the growing prosperity of the middle class cultivated a craving for bigger and better homes, fancier church buildings, nicer clothing. The wealthy wanted to stand out and the poorer felt an urge to fit in. Shame on us.
Have you ever heard (or said): “God deserves the best”? I agree with this 100%. My best, however, has nothing to do with the clothing I wear. I fear for too long folks have cared more about looking the part than being the part. An old Kentucky Methodist preacher named Peter Cartwright who died in 1872 said, “The Methodists in that early day dressed plain. They wore no jewelry, no ruffles. But O, how have things changed for the worse in this educational age of the world!”. I couldn’t agree more. When the discussion of “giving God your best” arises…please know this isn’t talking about your clothing. God isn’t concerned with what brand or style clothing you have on. He is concerned with your heart. To wear a fancy, expensive suit or beautiful flowing dress does absolutely nothing if we turn our nose at the man who comes in with jeans and a torn t-shirt who may smell like he partied too hard. Church is for him! Whatever you adorn yourself with matters not. Give me a church family of folks in basketball shorts and cut off shirts or jeans with stains on them who desire to worship and be the good needed, than a congregation full of uptight, snotty, “holier than thou” in fine clothing. Jesus isn’t concerned about your outside. He’s concerned about your heart.
“Oh yeah, preacher man, that’s your opinion! What does the Bible say?!” 1 Samuel 16:7 – God looks at the heart. John 7:24 – Jesus says don’t judge by appearances. James 2:1-5 – Treat everyone the same. Let’s worry more about our hearts than what folks wear, ok? Ok.
Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.