The other day I was with my very good friend visiting his father. We had lunch and were asking how things were going. We finally got down to how things were going at his church. He said that things were good. The pastor was great, everything was how it was supposed to be but on the other hand how much things have changed. At this point he had some grave concerns with how people of faith are becoming a dissapointment. While I'm waiting for some sort of scandalous report, he said, "I can count on one hand how many men wear suits to church."
I love this man. He means a great deal to me. He is precious. He is older than I am. He's followed Jesus longer than I have. He doesnt' get it.
Who am I to say this? How can I have the audacity to tell anyone they don't get it? Well I guess it depends on what we're supposed to get. As far as I know, I, as a follower of Jesus, am supposed to love people the way they are. I am supposed to love them as myself. I am to see them as Jesus did. Billy Graham always gives his invitations to follow Jesus to the song of "Just As I Am". Christian religion has taken us from "just as I am" to "you'd better get your business straight with God...and put on a suit too."
If churches are to be agents of change and influence people to become and CONTINUE to be followers of Christ, the expectation of people to look and act like we want them to look and act needs to go. I'm not talking about moral boundaries being taken down or God's expectation of all believers to live a righteous life. I am talking about the unrealistic cultrual expectation of a bygone era to be lived out today.
Religious people continue to make up rules and regulations to control people, not help them follow Jesus. It's like Jesus set them free from their prisons of addiction, lonliness and sin and religious people put them in church lockup. It's the equivalent of the medieval chastity belt. We're saying that your purity in God's eyes is of utmost importance but we don't trust you to be able to do it.
I want to gather with God's people in church and worship God with the purpose of celebrating God's grace, encouraging the recovering, lifting up the lost to give hope. I want to see a connection with other humans going through what I'm going through and pointing them to a God that loves them just the way they are.
So if you're interested in that, come with me to my church to worship God how you desire to. Show up and be comfortable. Meet people who live on earth like you and need a God who loves them in the mess they're in. But don't worry about wearing a suit. It looks sharp but isn't mandatory.