This 21st century is becoming progressively more interesting in a very bizarre manner. We are living in a time when just about anything goes! We can go almost anywhere and expect to see some of everything! You can see multiple piercings on the ears, lips, forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, neck, and head or just about anywhere on the body. Let’s not even discuss the places that we don’t see.
You can see glitter glam clothes or faces. Pink, royal blue, purple, burgundy, yellow and even green hair on both male and females. It has become acceptable for many to even walk around with their pants sagging below the buttocks! You can go to the shopping mall and see many clad in pajamas and slippers and guess what they are just out shopping; so what does it matter? The old shorter than short “Daisy Duke” shorts are even trying to make a comeback. WOW!
I know everyone wants to be comfortable or they just want to as the ole song says “Express Yourself!” So it has become tolerable to just dress down whenever or wherever. After all we are not hurting anyone.
Think about for a moment or two!
What is the most important event or occasion that you will attend? Is it a wedding, red carpet affair, birthday party, funeral, job interview or perhaps a prom? How do you dress for the occasion? If it is a wedding, you probably want to wear your best? Or maybe not? Why is that; because it has become acceptable to dress just any kind of way; right?
Well, what about going to worship? You should just “come as you are.” If you have not been a part of God’s Church it is understandable. But if you have been a part of the Church for a while you might want to ask; to whom or where do you present your best other than at worship?
Did you know that the Church is the Bride of Christ? The Church has begun to blend right in with the world.
It’s okay if you wear a suit and tie or business casual pantsuit, dress or blouse and slacks to the office if you are a manager or a CEO or CIO! But if I want to wear flip flops and cut offs it should not matter especially since I still get my work done. I just want to be comfortable and I don’t want to wait until casual Friday. What happened to the basic dress code? It really does matter how you present yourself!
Hmm I guess God is not interested in how we dress? “Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12. What does this have to do with how I am dressed? A lot! It’s clear here that we are not supposed to conform to the ways of the world. Notice how The Church has begun to pattern its dress after the standards of the world. This has even filtered over into going to worship! I guess we should really just want to hang out. sip a cup of coffee and be comfortable here too?
There is nothing wrong with freedom of expression. But what is proper and improper and who determines when or where? Does it matter that I go to worship looking like I’m on my way to the beach. Or if I look like I just woke up and threw on my most comfortable outfit! Or perhaps I was going to mow the lawn and decided to come to worship first. Or just perhaps I am going bowling after service and don’t want to make a change? It’s okay to wear a suit and tie sometimes if you are a pastor, minister or part of the praise team. Well maybe not because since its March madness everyone can just come in their Jersey’s representing their favorite team. By the way ladies it’s okay to just pull on a pair of leggings because the jersey’s are as long as some of the dresses and tops you wear? Oh my! I have just stepped on some toes! What’s wrong with wearing jerseys? Hmmm tell me when did going to worship have anything to do with your favorite football or basketball team? I am for team JESUS!! But do not penalize me because I do not wear jerseys! Hmmm what happens if I show up in causal dress when everyone else is dressed up for a special occassion or program? I know I am just too ole fashion or just plain judgmental? Maybe so!
Worship is supposed to be about GOD! Worship is supposed to be about us being thankful and grateful that JESUS died on the cross for us! He overcame sin in the flesh, lived a sinless life, died, was buried and rose from the dead with all power and authority! We are to give Him the GLORY! What is so casual about that?
It’s okay to pray at the altar and ask for healing, restoration and or some of our physical, emotional, mental or material needs. Its okay to sit in your seat if you prefer. It is okay to shout, scream, laugh, run around or do whatever? It is the posture of our hearts that GOD is looking at… GOD can and will supply in HIS time whatever is in HIS Will for us! But worship really should not be about us asking for something all the time. It should be more about GOD and us thanking HIM. Worship is devotional time to praise and adore the Lord; for all that He has done, is doing and will do!
Now how should we present ourselves? Look to the Lord and let Him direct you and not to the masses. I know we ought to be comfortable. We want to make everyone else comfortable too. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are being judged or unworthy, or that we are looking down on them? The truth is we all are unworthy. Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross for us all and at least we should make and attempt to put our best foot forward!
His Blood has priceless cleansing POWER!
What if Jesus returned today? Would you want to run home and change?
What if I do not have anything to wear? Well what did you wear to that dance you went to, or to that wedding, or the ballet, or that sorority or fraternity dinner, or to the prom or any other dress up event? Right; that’s different. Think about this for a moment. But you want to “dress down” when you come to worship God!
Check it out
The Old Testament gives us a vivid description of the Temple and the clothing that the priest was adorned in. It is clear that they put their best foot forward. Many went through purification rituals to prepare for worship. Leviticus has a plethora of laws and regulations that had to be adhered to prior to worship. There has been a gradual shifting down of the dress code as well as the moral behavior… No wonder sin is abounding and “anything goes!” Just perhaps all this dressing down has put the Church in such a relaxed mode that it’s made many feel that there is no need to change because we are to just “come as you are!” Yes indeed come as you are! But we are not to stay as we are! God is all about transforming our lives from the inside out!
See Part 2
God not only knows the very hairs that are on our heads. He determines how long we inhabit the earth. He is the ultimate Master Creator and Designer who weaves everything together in His magnificent canvas of life. When we grow in His grace, truth and knowledge He gives us the ability to spiritually discern. Spiritual discernment lights the foreground of our canvas as we venture through this valley of the shadow of death. His wisdom grooms our being so as children of light our life’s canvas commences to reflect the light of His presence in our life.
Quite often we adapt to the world and employ personality traits that are in general socially acceptable. Personality is used in typical dictionary definition to distinguish behavioral, emotional and attitudinal tendencies, character traits and habits. It is by these traits that one is uniquely recognized. We as people are fundamentally a complex integration of physical and non-physical dimensions and attributes.
The spiritual facet of us should reflect the God like qualities within our nature. Interpersonal dynamics and environmental influences are primary, but not exclusive to developmental determinants of our personalities. As human beings we are living, learning and growing organisms. When parents have properly nourished us by providing sufficient freedom and are generous in positive reinforcement, children will achieve a sense of personal autonomy. On the other hand if parents have modeled much faulty behavior themselves, were too overprotective, demanding, too permissive or critical, emotionally, mentally and physically or sexually abusive children will learn to have doubts about themselves. They will become harnessed with feelings of shame. In God’s eyes we are all ageless children. His Holy Spirit’s presence in one’s life is able to override any inappropriate learning experiences which we all have to a certain degree. God who is the ultimate Sovereign Creator can paint new life onto our life’s canvas. The Holy Spirit works in believers to give us a new nature.
When I studied “Art Appreciation” in school I acquired a respect for the various art forms. When I saw an original Picasso Abstract, my first reaction was “I don’t like it”. After studying Picasso’s work I learned he was able to paint with a childlike simplicity. He was able to go inside, vicariously share and interpret on canvas the depth of his feelings. From an exterior posture for one to understand his work, a surface summation would not properly render what he was trying to relay. Despite the possibility of no one understanding he did not allow that to hinder His work. Whether he was aware of it or not He was given a God-given talent. It was largely after his death that the world really began to appreciate and understand his unique gift.
Our life can be quite like an abstract painting. Especially by those who really don’t know us. People usually fear what they don’t understand, or tend to label it negatively. Webster defines Abstract as; difficult to understand. Insufficiently factual. Expressing a quality considered apart from an object. Impersonal having only a generalized form with little or no attempt at precise representation. Quite often as Christians we too must risk being misunderstood. We must learn to tenaciously pursue our God given talent(s) with a steadfast devotion. Thank You Lord for making me “peculiar!” it should always be our first priority fo live each day to please God not man. I assure you, you will be a lot happier!
Each day that passes what we say and do and how we respond paints an array of events on our personal canvas of life. Much of our life’s paint is applied erroneously when we wander aimlessly about. When we stray from the narrow path that God has designed. God’s world is awesomely vast. A marvelous abstract spiritual venture awaits those who are obedient. Faith and Trust in Him are required companions that confidently paint the unseen path before us! It is easy to deter from our course because God allows us so much freedom. He has given us the power to choose. Other wise each individual canvas would yield a duplicate reproduction!
But once we really discover that life has purpose the strokes on our life’s canvas should be guided by our Creator.
There is nothing in our life that has transpired that we can unpaint. When we find ourselves somewhere we don’t want to be, or saying or doing something we don’t want to do, what do we do? Do we continue to allow pride to lead us anyway? No, it will only lead us somewhere we don’t really want to go.
The hues of pride darken the spiritual path. It keeps the light of our direction deep in the background. So do we just waste precious time and continue to stumble around? Do we employ passages of scriptures to justify our sometimes wrong position? Do we erroneously mislead and gather others to support us in our wrong position? Ask yourself, do you hear a faint unspoken voice beckoning you to change your direction? Although painful, it is far better to move towards the Light. God knows your true motives. Do you know it is more important what God knows rather than what people think! God is OMNIPOTENT and HE can change your life in a miraculous way.
God our Creator knows all of our faults, shortcomings, misunderstandings and insecurities. His arms are wide open. But too often, pride, guilt and shame keeps us at His arm distance. It keeps us in the dark away from His marvelous Light! Too often we just don’t want to admit that we are possibly wrong or were wrong to ourselves especially not someone else! We are so reluctant to tint our canvas with the magnificent brilliance of humility! We would rather allow pride to paint our canvas and take us to a place that we will eventually dread!
If you are at a point in your life you don’t want to be, or if your life seems to be headed in a direction of uncertainty; If you have done something or said something you should not have ( and we do from time to time) seek God’s direction. Really dedicate some time to being still and sincerely do some deep soul searching. Have your self a Gethsemane experience. Get quiet enough so you can actually hear what God is saying. Now that you have gotten His attention. Sincerely render to Him what is on your mind and in your heart. Remember He knows anyway. Once you have lightened your load. Ask Him for direction. Admit and repent (not repeat) of anything that is hindering your spiritual path. Now step out on Faith and move forward trusting God and soliciting the presence & power of His Holy Spirit to lead you in the path of righteousness.
“PRAY without ceasing,” all throughout your day and begin to allow God’s yoke to be spiritually connected to you. Watch and experience the beauty of Him lightening your burdens. I assure you He will direct you! Just know it may not be in a direction you want to go. You may just have to apply some humility to your life’s canvas. Humility can harness anger and impulsive rage will have to flee! Instead each painful step in His direction will be accompanied by His unexplainable peace! Did you know that when we are at our weakest point it gives God the opportunity to create a great work in us? Proceed cautiously knowing that anger and pride wants to darken it’s hues on your life canvas. They want to deceive you and keep you walking in denial and disobedience. They only want to suppress and cover up the Light that wants to shine on your life’s canvas!
Once we humbly admit to God we are wrong, a flood of Light appears. It opens the door for the cleansing power of His Word to wash us thoroughly. God in His infinite wisdom is totally aware of the minutest speck of sin on each of our individual canvases. “All of us have sinned and fallen short of His glory”. But this does not give us the right to continue in sin. Christ did not die for us to be slaves to any sin in our lives. He even told us except we become as children we will not enter into His kingdom! He is the only Sovereign Master Designer! He can make each stroke of circumstances whatever they may be; mold and shape us into a vessel of beauty and honor in His sight. God has an unlimited wealth of transformation power! Always remember it is what GOD knows about us is what matter most! You/we are “forever becoming” we never arrive until the Lord calls us home to Him. Commence to allow His Holy Spirit to guide you as you paint your personal canvas knowing that the Lord is by your side for “it is in HIM we move and live and have our being.” Acts 17 Our life truly is “A work of art in progress!”