Thursday, June 19, 2008

How should we show reverence to God in church? Does wearing a hat or questionable clothes on stage give Him reverence?

One of the things that I love most about Christianity is that it is never about (or should never be about) making appearances. In other words, God looks at the heart in all that we do and all the choices that we make. Accordingly, our clothing decisions are no different. For example, if I am a person with a long-standing Christian background who was taught from an early age that wearing a hat in church is wrong, and I truly feel uncomfortable wearing one in church, then I will probably make a choice not to wear a hat. This choice would honor God because He knows that my heart’s first priority is to honor Him. It really isn’t about my appearances—it is about my heart condition.

Conversely, if I grew up in a culture (Christian or non-Christian) that had no restrictions on hat-wearing and no negative messages about wearing a hat in church, I wouldn’t think anything of wearing one! I would have no idea that this could even offend anyone. I simply do not have those parameters on my radar screen. In this case, I may wear a hat to church without any thought of dishonoring God and I may in fact wear it with a heart condition that truly is honoring to God. Again, it is not about the appearance of the hat that matters, it is the condition of my heart. I always need to ask myself: “Is honoring God my first priority?” If you want to do a quick and interesting study on a somewhat related theme, read about how some of Paul’s companions, in order to spread the gospel, submitted to circumcision while others were did not. All of them honored God though their actions were completely opposite. (See Galatians 2:3 and compare it to Acts 16:3).

Concerning questionable clothing, we need to ask ourselves, “Who is calling what questionable?” “Is it questionable just to me? To everyone? To some?” Do we play a percentage game here?: “If 49% of the congregation considers what I’m wearing to be questionable, then it is OK if I wear it. But if 51% thinks it’s questionable, then I won’t wear it.” Even if this could be ascertained, doesn’t this seem more human-oriented rather than God-oriented? A God-oriented approach would be to give a person freedom unless we truly feel that the person is causing someone else to stumble i.e. in this case, causing someone to think unwholesome thoughts while worshipping. If I know or feel that a person on stage is causing another to stumble, then I believe my godly action would be as follows:

  1. Do not talk about this to anyone else.
  2. Do not grumble or complain about it.
  3. Do not automatically assume that the person in question is ungodly and/or rebellious.
  4. Pray
  5. Go to the person in question with a caring manner remembering Jesus’ caution in John 8:7, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.”
  6. Be sure that this is a face-to-face talk…NOT an email (at the office we sometimes call this “coward’s communication”)…NOT a phone call…a face-to-face talk. If you are willing to take the time for a face-to-face talk and you are courageous enough to do so, you demonstrate that this is not just a pet peeve of yours but it is something you truly feel could hinder God’s message.
  7. Affirm and thank him/her for the things they have done well in the past.
  8. Explain to him/her how a person might see the clothing as questionable and how a person may be liable to stumble because of it.
  9. Ask politely if he/she might be able to refrain wearing the clothing on stage.
  10. Thank him/her for considering your request, affirm him/her again, pray together.

    -Jody Robinson

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