Jesus called his disciples to come as they were. He dined with crooks, thugs and prostitutes. An itinerate rabbi who gave most of his homilies outdoors and off the cuff, I doubt seriously He cared what one wore while listening to The Sermon on The Mount. On this basis most 21st Century, evangelical, Christians take the position that what one wears to Sunday Worship is unimportant. Formality is in the norm, considered elitist, old fashioned or silly at best.
A deeper look might prove this majority opinion to be in error. In the book of Exodus, after God gives Moses the Law, He sets forth in elaborate and minute detail, the specifications for The Ark in which the tablets were to be carried and the Tabernacle which was to house The Ark. In Chapter 38-40, The Almighty describes down to width and color, the thread to be used in the priest's garments [only the High Priest was permitted to come into the presence of The Most High]. Clearly, God here cares deeply about the way in which He is worshiped and the manner of clothing worn. When Jesus entered Jerusalem and began to teach in the Temple it would be foolish to think He did not present Himself in his finest robes. To do otherwise would have been an affront to the dignity of the Temple and His Father in Heaven.
America has become a laid-back nation. Casual Friday has become dress-down Tuesday, sloppy Thursday and slovenly Saturday. In our youth conscious, antinomian culture, attention to form and detail in dress is seen as snobbish or eccentric. School teachers resemble their students and druggists and doctors have abandoned the white lab coat. Tradesmen and artisans who once dressed in starched blue or khaki uniforms now come to your home in wife beater tee shirts and cut off jeans. It seems as if only bankers, lawyers and high government officials - and a few Ministers of The Gospel - can be regularly found in tailored clothing. Nowadays we are all one in unpretentious, familiarity.
Again sadly, The Church has let itself be defined by the world. Finding slapdash dress acceptable in the schoolhouse and the workplace, The Church has surrendered its own sanctity by embracing the relaxed style of dressing for worship attendance. “After all”, we say “God doesn’t care what one wears when he comes, only that he come”. Further we don’t want to put off unbelievers or appear “better than”. The reality is we find it easier to throw on a golf shirt and khakis and slap shorts and flip-flops on the kids than bother with neckties, dress socks, shoes, trousers and jackets.
Unfortunately there is an inconvenient truth for our nonchalant worshipers. It does matter what you wear to Sunday services. It matters to the world of unbelievers and most of all it matters to God. Those in the First Century who came to hear Jesus were did not understand they were in the presence of The Son of God. He kept His Deity a carefully guarded secret until late in his ministry. Even The 12 were not advised of His true identity until very near the end. In the world of Second Temple Judaism, this Jesus was the son of man.
Not so today. Christians go to The Lord’s House on The Lord’s Day. These titles are not merely pious sounding names. They are the titles of God, of our Savior. When we enter the church building we step inside the earthly house of The Great I AM. Sunday is not just the day of Jesus the dusty rabbi but of Christ, The King of Kings, The Lamb worthy to receive glory and honor. Casual dress is explicitly familiar. Familiarity does not beget reverence. In what way does coming into His presence dressed as if for a cookout bring honor and glory to The Risen Christ? Is it in the coming alone? If believers don’t respect their Savior and Sovereign enough to enter His courts in dignified apparel why should we expect unbelievers to hold Him other than in contempt? Why should our children accept the authority of a God not worthy of dressing up for?
I am not suggesting that one needs to wear expensive or sophisticated clothing to church in order to properly honor God – only that it be serious and dignified. For those who don’t know what serious and dignified attire is, I offer this question as an example. If your family [including your children] were invited to dine at The White House with The President and First Lady, what would you wear? How would you clothe the children? Is communing with God Almighty, in His House less important?