Growing up with a father who is a pastor and a mother who is a teacher puts quite a bit of stress on how other people perceive you. I am eternally grateful for my parents and how they have raised me, including how I have grown in my religious beliefs because of their example. Through the example of my parents and that of Jesus Christ that I have studied, I saw and to this day attempt to utilize in my own life, the shared qualities of humility and a nonjudgmental attitude.
Upon my arrival to this campus I knew that Southwestern was considered one of the more religiously conservative schools in the Adventist system. Being a little more liberal in my religious views than others, I knew that this fact could potentially cause some conflict. However, given my background as a pastor’s kid, I knew I could handle it as well as have an opportunity to share views of another perspective to those who wished to listen.
The topic of “Sabbath Attire” has always been prominent in my experience, and I have never completely agreed with the normal view on it.
Have you ever gone to church and seen a person out of place? Maybe underdressed, or with a tattoo, a crazy hairstyle, or as low key as a person in their pajamas? When that happens today, many times people stare and single those people out, making them feel judged. One thing we need to remember, especially in church, is the fact that it’s not our place to judge others in any way, shape or form. Judgment in any form is a power left to God, and from what I’ve understood in the Bible, Jesus tells us to come and worship as we are. Jesus made a point of spending time with sinners and the socially unacceptable. And I think the reason that crowd loved him so much was because he didn’t treat them any different than he would want to be treated.
The first semester I was here on campus I walked into the church for vespers and went over to the guys’ dorm representative to make sure I got worship credit. He told me that I couldn’t get credit because I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I then asked to talk to a dean for further explanation. During that short discussion with one of the deans, the question was asked, “Don’t you think God deserves your best?” God does deserve my best, he deserves more than my best because my best is still a sinful human being. The thing is, pertaining to situations other than my own, what is a person supposed to think when they are asked a question like that? What that question infers to me is that whatever I have to bring currently isn’t good enough for God, and I know that this is not true. Especially when looking at the nature of God: a forgiving, loving, understanding God who makes a point to hang out with sinners and to connect with them, getting to know them despite their faults.
You might then say, that may be true for sinners and outcasts who don’t have much to bring to the table, but shouldn’t those who know about God and regularly go to church be respectful enough to understand that we dress up to bring our best for God? First of all, it is not anyone’s but God’s place to judge where a person stands in their relationship with Him. Therefore, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with whether or not a person knows God well enough to understand what he expects from us. Secondly, when you really think about it, what happens when you put on fancy clothes and you look your best? People compliment you! (Emphasis on the word YOU) They don’t come up to you and say “My, don’t you look good for God today? I bet he’s proud.” When the majority of people dress up, they do it for the compliments. Now, please explain to me the difference between adorning your body with jewelry and adorning it with clothes. Is it not the same concept? People looking at you thinking, “Wow, this person has it together.” Is that what God wants, us looking up to each other instead of focusing on Him? I don’t think so. Even in biblical times the only people in the synagogue who were really dressed up were the priests. Other people might have dressed up, but they certainly weren’t checked at the door to make sure God accepted their worship for the day. They weren’t even checked to make sure everyone thought they were there for the right purposes.
I understand that this is a very opinionated article, and you can choose to ignore it if you wish, but the next time you put on your best suit or dress, just take a second and think, why did you choose the color you did? The fabric? The style? Is it because it’s slimming? Because it makes your eyes stand out? Why does it matter? Who will it affect? So many times I see things like this come to the point where putting on fancy clothes covers up who we really are inside. We dress up to create a perception of ourselves that we want others to see, and in that, we lose sight of why we thought we were doing it in the first place. If we were truly honest with ourselves and put forth the right effort in our individual relationships with God, we might find that he doesn’t care what we look like, how we dress, or how we get to where we are going, as long as our focus is on Him.