Monday, June 16, 2008

Jumbled Thoughts About Why We Do What We Do

I was sitting in church yesterday thinking about all the time and energy I put into making myself clean and presentable that morning. I took care to shower and do my hair and pick out a nice outfit. I made sure I was in a good mood so I could smile and chat with other people at church. And I sat there all prim and polished, as we confessed our sins before God and admitted how worthless and vile we are.

But I didn't feel worthless and vile. I was clean. I didn't even have cracker crumbs on my shirt dropped by some messy child. I put on my best face this morning and now I was supposed to focus on how not nice I am.

I'm totally convinced of my sinfulness and perverted nature. But on Sunday mornings I feel clean and pulled together- well, most of the time I do, anyway. So I was just thinking what difference it would make it I showed up for corporate worship in my sweats with my hair disheveled and greasy and feeling grumpy in general. What difference would that make in my worship? When I'm sitting at home having a quiet time with God, I feel more real and unappealing. And sometimes, on the flip side, I feel so guilty sitting in church with everyone else looking so neat and pulled together and when I compare myself with them I feel filthy- even though I look just as nice as they do right then. So why do we get all dressed up for church? I mean, I understand the idea of being properly dressed for meeting with our God, but still.... How am I supposed to be real when I'm all dolled up?

I was trying to bring these thoughts together for a coherent blog post, but I'm finding I'm having a hard time doing that. Does any of this make sense? Does anyone else feel similarly? Any thoughts, anyone?

12 comments:

Pug Lover said...

I feel the same way, my mom used to make me dress up even in 90 degree weather. Now I feel that yes there are some unappropriate things to wear, however I feel you don't need to dress up.

Patty

james3v1 said...

uh

yes?

though it may be worse than that.

I'm very interested in any ideas anyone else has about it.

barb said...

I think it comes down to motive. Because I teach the preschoolers, sometimes wearing a dress or skirt is not practical so I wear pants and even jeans. Then there are other times when I'm getting ready for church I put on a rebellious spirit as well as my jeans. I dress up for work 5 days out of the week so I feel "entitled" to have a dress down day. Designer silk jeans with 24K embroidery are not appropriate with that attitude.

Next topic...what's everyone think about appropriateness of having bible reading on the toilet?????

barb said...

Hit enter too quickly...another thought, just as you sometimes want to "doll up" for your husband, doesn't God deserve at least the same?

Dad said...

There is the flip side. You _are_ clean. Because of Jesus your sins have been dealt with and forgotten by the Father. He sees you cleaner than you realize. He sees you dressed in Jesus' righteousness. So, it is completely appropriate to dress well and feel clean during worship - because you are.

There is a time to remember your sins, but most of the time we need to forget them.

Dad

Fritz The Grand said...

I'm with Dad here, there is a time to understand your vile nature but if you dwell on it too much it can be used by the devil to trip you up, make you feel that Christ is NOT enough and you too need to punish yourself so YOU pay for your sins.

The only time you should let yourself see the vileness in your heart is so that you can rejoice all the more at the love God has shown to us. Believe me, He knows that we are sinners, but Jesus died and gave us His righteousness. God doesn't even see our sins anymore, he has thrown them away from Himself as far as the "East is from the West".

These are the thoughts of someone who struggles with feeling righteous.

Fritz The Grand said...

Hmm..did I just double post? I hope I didn't.

Adiel said...

Thanks, everyone. This really helped me to sort out some thoughts. I have a hard time believing that I'm truly saved and clean. I guess I feel like I don't deserve to feel that way so looking good on the outside feels like a lie to me. But if it's true that that's how my Father sees me then who am I to insist I'm ugly when He tells me I'm beautiful? Thanks for reminding me of this.

Barb, my grandparents used to have a Bible in their bathroom and I thought it was the strangest thing until I saw how practical it was. For a lot of us, that's the only quiet alone time we'll get. It still seems weird, though. :)

Ellie said...

It seems like this discussion is over, but I have had a similar question in my head ever since I came to FRC. It seems like everyone gets dressed up and tries to look all nice.
Actually, once I heard JWags say that he would not dare to go to our service in a normal (sweatpants) outfit. I thought, why not?
Does God really care if we wear nice slacks or sweatpants? Or if we really took time to do our hair or not?

Pastor B- said...

Ellie,

I have to agree with you that what we wear is not all that important. Certainly, God doesn't care about what we wear. He is more concerned about our hearts. I will say that there are some who come to worship at Faith Reformed dressed quite casually, wearing jeans, for example. Since my sabbatical I have become more informal in my Sunday attire. I'm not sure that JWags would cause a huge stir if he came in sweatpants.

Having said all of that, it also needs to be said that what we wear does affect us. I feel one way when I'm in a suit with a starched white shirt and a power tie and quite another when I'm in ratty jeans and an old sweat shirt. When I was working in a Christian elementary school we had rules about what the students could wear. Some kinds of clothing hinder kids from focusing on their classwork. Likewise, how we feel affects our worship. So, we need to be careful.

We prayed for you at the Bible study on Friday.

Pastor B-

Adiel said...

I'm trying to not be so picky about what is "proper" attire for church. Personally, I like dressing up a bit and I feel quite comfortable that way (of course, that's where my pride comes in.)
I try to never wear something that would be distracting to me or others (jangly jewelry, too much perfume, etc.)
I do think some care needs to be taken to look clean, modest and appropriate since we are meeting with our God. But if someone walked in off the street into our church wearing grungy jeans and and an old T-shirt I'd welcome him gladly and try to make him feel comfortable there just the way he was.

Ellie said...

Thank you very much for your answers, things are certainly more clear to me :o)