A while back I did a post where I attacked the position that one must dress up for church. But there was one workaround I purposefully ignored in light of its complexities. “Since it is true that I don’t have to dress up for Church to impress God”, says a reader,” therefore I can dress how I want.” The first half of the answer to this sort of response deals with the subject of modesty and gender specific clothing—a topic I’m not planning to get into in this post. The second half of the answer deals with how we use what we wear.
This doesn’t only apply to clothing. There’s nothing in Scripture against movies (well, certain kinds of movies anyway) but movies can also fall under the usage I plan to explain here. There’s nothing in Scripture against cell phones, iPods, video game systems, cartoons or cheerios either—but all of these will fall underneath the same header: Things that can one can use to illustrate the Gospel.
Right about now I envision millions of Christian teens frenetically planning how they’re going to use their movie-going freedom to illustrate the Gospel. I Watch Movies For Christ, emblazoned on tee-shirts.
That’s not what I’m talking about at all. Sidebar: look at the apostle Paul.
This guy preached the Gospel twenty four-seven. He went on several missionary journeys, on foot and boat, and suffered beatings, stonings, lashes, and imprisonment. The dude’s situation was so bad that he had a doctor as part of his entourage, and even then he would admit that the marks of Christ on his body were visible.
Not only that, God was in this guy’s corner. The Lord had already established a pattern in the Old Testament that those who work are to be fed; more so a prophet of God. Heck, one of God’s prophets stays at a poor widow’s house during a famine, demands food (which she provides), and makes himself at home. All of the Lord’s ministers have this right (not an optional benefit, a right), to be supported in their ministry as they work preaching the Gospel.
Knowing his right Paul could go into an area, preach, and accept monetary gifts from the people.
Yet Paul rejected his rights.
When he was in Corinth he refused to accept money, and instead took a job making sails and tents. Not only that, he supported his missionary team with the money he made, refusing to let the Corinthians cover their expenses.
He took his freedom, threw it away, and illustrated the Gospel.
This is the way Christ loved: He, who was the omnipotent and sovereign God, became weak, under the Law, so that he might save the weak that were condemned by the Law.
Let it sink in. Total freedom to do what they wanted, abrogated and repacked to show the amount of love they have for others.
Back to clothing (and cell phones, movies, video game systems, cartoons and cheerios): even though we have the complete right to do what we want with them, we shouldn’t see them as chance to satisfy our temporary desires. We don’t need more tracts to hand out; we don’t need more verses to quote; we don’t need more Hallmark cards to hand out to each other: we can use our freedom in life to illustrate the Gospel to others.
Run off and print out a badge “I Can Wear What I Want; But I Don’t Because I Love You.”
Bottom Line: Wearing a tie to Church is a complete non-issue. You can do it or you can’t do it; yet here’s a person (be it a pastor, an elder, a teacher or a friend) who thinks that not-wearing a tie is sinful or blasphemous or a bad example. You can tell them face to face that not only is it not-sinful, it is a non-issue and because it is a non-issue you will wear a tie because you love them. Say it and mean it. Don’t merely capitulate and let them wallow in weakness; wear the tie and say “It hurts my neck, but I’ll wear it because I love you.”
Timothy went and got himself circumcised1 because he loved; wearing a tie is easy.
Therefore realize that our freedoms aren’t merely there to satisfy forty five minutes of our time on earth, but are actually God granted packets of eternity; moments where we can exemplify the love of God to others.
The verses that influenced my thinking are 1 Corinthians 9 (on Paul); Acts 16:1-3; 1 Kings 17; 1 Corinthians 8 (on Freedom); Rom 15
1 It is important to add that although Timothy did get circumcised, Titus did not (Galatians 2:3-5). Paul had very big clashes with the people of the Circumcision in which they thought that Circumcision added to the Gospel by making a better believer, something that Paul would vehemently deny. Timothy was a half-Jew, Titus was a full Gentile: capitulating in this matter would have compromised the Gospel and illustrated Another Gospel.