– by Dr. Siva Moodley
We have heard many speak about developing excellence. The church in Africa has inherited so much good from the church in the West, yet it has inherited so much bad also. From the West, it is common to see someone preach to large crowds with torn jeans, skinny pants, shabby, as if they are at a soccer match. With the extreme grace teaching, some have decided they do not need to change because grace gives them permission to live as they are, after all God told them to come as they are. Yet in Africa, Believers in Christ usually have different views on this topic. A church service is a grand splendour, often more spectacular than a wedding. Pastors dress up to be in His presence. Even when I travel to conferences in the USA, it’s the pastors from Africa who come elegantly and formally dressed.
Who is right?
Does God have a dress code and expectancy on how we approach him? Could the extreme grace teaching be in conflict with the Word of God? Could the churches of the West be compromising the glory while becoming more seeker friendly? Are we in Africa losing the presence of God by following the crowds and ideologies of the West? What does God teach in His Word about this?
God expects perfection
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” According to this Scripture, God is perfect and expects us to be perfect also. Now, this Scripture contradicts the grace teaching that while you can come as you are, you are allowed to remain that way. God tells us to come in our sin, failures, fears, and mess. He promises to take it away and fix us. But once we are saved, God now expects us to change daily. He says that He takes away all our spots and blemishes, fixing us till we are whiter than snow.
More like Jesus
Every day we become more and more like Jesus. When God says come as you are – this has nothing to do with the way we dress – its referring to that state of our heart. According to this Scripture, He says he expects us to be perfect. So, if we are in the same sin year after year, then it means we have resisted the Holy Spirit and Scripture.
What about the way we dress?
No Scripture in the New Testament outlines specific outfits to wear to church or to be used in His Presence in the church. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 does however teach about modesty in dressing. Yet, God does have a dress code. In the Old Testament, no priest could come before the presence of God without the correct priestly garment (Ex 28). In heaven there is a dress code for eternity (Rev 7:9-17). We know that the Jews bathed in public baths outside Jerusalem, and put on formal clothing before entering the Holy City.
What about God’s heart?
The Scriptures that tell us God’s heart in this matter is found in the new Testament. Matthew 22:11 tells us that people who were inappropriately dressed at a wedding were rejected. They were required to be formally dressed with wedding clothes (Clothes that honoured the bridal couple and the event). These people came casually dressed to an event where honour was required and dishonoured the event by their dress code. Their only sin was their attire that was not appropriate for the event. Always remember that Scripture has a physical/historical meaning, a spiritual meaning, and an apocalyptic meaning. Too often we only look at one of those meanings and neglect the principle God is teaching us.
Of importance to God
If I were to meet a King whom I did not respect, I would dress as I wanted to. However, if I revered him, I would make sure I honour him appropriately. A new Christian is not concerned about honouring God appropriately, so will always be casually dressed, however one that has been transformed by God’s power will honour God in their speech, worship, and attire. As per Matthew 22:11, this seems important to God.
You be the judge
So the question to ask is, is seeker-friendly influence teaching us to dishonour God? Are we becoming a culture that brings God to our level, where there is no longer honour for His presence? Is this lack of reverence the reason many are struggling to get a breakthrough? You be the judge.
Article source: JOY! Magazine