In a true testament to the adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” my site traffic has jumped since I was placed on the Pyromaniacs blog, and with that I feel an obligation to post more…and post “better”.
I’d like to explore an issue that is not a “heaven or hell” issue, but it is still important. As an introduction, I present to you the following “GodTube” video. I believe these videos were made with good intentions, but their stereotyping and passive condescension of the issue left a bad taste in my mouth, and led me to write this post:
I believe the “casual church” is indicative of the “seeker-sensitive” movement currently propagating itself through American Christianity, whether or not the church in question is part of that movement. Since this is a scatterbrained blog post, I will use a couple of rhetorical questions related to this idea of “casual” to get things started:
What is the purpose of attending church? It is to corporately worship and glorify God, or sing, sit and socialize? If churches allow newcomers to “come as they are” and its membership to “stay as they are”, what message are they trying to send about the Lord’s exhortation to take up one’s cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23)? If you don’t have to change your clothes for God (as the young man in this video didn’t), what else can remain the same while still calling oneself a Christian? Why do we feel the need to dress up for a date, a job interview or work, but can attend church unshaven and unkempt?
Some of these are more tired arguments than others, but I’d like to explore each of them (in addition to looking at James 2:3-4, the Hope Diamond proof-text of the casual church crown):
The purpose of attending worship services is to worship, glorify, and adore God, and learn about His Word in order to grow in our faith and sanctification. God does not need our worship, because He needs for nothing; but He commands it, and it is justly given to Him. In “seeker-sensitive” churches, the emphasis is on the attendee; they are to be praised for waking up early on a Sunday and making their way into the house of God to fill up their spiritual tank, hang out with their friends and get free child care, sip on some Starbucks, or merely do their duty as churchgoers. “I got/didn’t get a lot out of that service” is a common phrase uttered from those church halls, as the direction of the church lends itself to the people in it, not the God above it.
“Come as you are” is the mantra for many churches, and as an invitation to newcomers is fine. If any church on the street turned away a beggar or even some kid wearing holey jeans seeking the one true and living God, it would be committing a grave error with eternal consequences. However, encouraging members who are supposed to be the regenerated believers (with hearts on fire for God, believing the Word and striving to give Him their very best) to come into church with nothing more than what they would wear to mow the lawn can be looked at as evidence of their view of the most high God.
“God never says dress up in the Bible” – The Word is sufficient, not exhaustive. There are thousands of feelings and activities that we participate in as Christians that do not have a “proof text” in the Bible. In cases where there is no Biblical directive, we give God our best out of gratitude and worship.
”John the Baptist dressed in camel hair and ate locusts…so obviously formal clothing is not necessary” -- Matthew 3:4 told about John the Baptist’s clothes to further demonstrate that one did not need the outward appearance of priestly robes for inward knowledge and spirituality (contrast the Pharisees).
”God loves us as we are” -- God loves you not for who you are but in spite of who you are.
It’s a tad stereotypical, but these are all responses I have heard from people in churches where casual dress and casual attitude are the norm. The clothing is not the issue; it’s the attitude behind it.
If we don’t have to change our clothes for God, what else can we hold on to? Explicit music, raunchy TV shows, or manner of speech?
I invite your comments!