Dressed Up for Jesus

10:36 AMHeather

My dad was a pastor from the time I was 12 until he was forced into retirement six years later during his losing battle with cancer.   In my teenage arrogance, I generally tuned him out.  Translation?  I missed the most important sermons he had to offer.  Literal sermons, as well as day to day teaching moments.   

But a few things have stuck with me.  Things like, "Just because you're in church doesn't mean you're a Christian--any more than standing in a garage makes you a car."  I don't know why that often quoted philosophy stuck with me, but it did.  

And another one I remember is how he'd talk about how waiting to come to Jesus or serve Him once you get it all together is like waiting to be well before you go to a hospital.  He'd talk about church being a place for the hurting the broken and the ones who need help.  

Someone it flew right over my head about how my Dad was talking about authenticity and transparency.  I don't even think those two words were in my vocabulary back then.  I was too busy teasing up my big 80's hair and trying to figure out wearing make up and dressing so I fit in with the "in crowd." 

But these are the long ago lessons that hit me between the eyes yesterday.  As I pondered the idea of shedding societal expectations.  As I read the comments on Facebook from my status about not wearing make-up.  And several people commented how they only put it on for church for Sundays.

Which is incredibly ironic to me.  

On the one hand, I get it.  I grew up going to church in my Sunday best.  Back in the day when little girls wore tights and black patent shoes and little boys wore ties and suits.  Sunday best has certainly changed since then.  But nevertheless, it's the most public place I might attend in most weeks.

On the other hand, isn't church the ONE place we should be able to most be ourselves?  Shouldn't it be the place where we feel most safe, most accepted, most loved?  Where our hurts and illnesses and brokenness should be admitted and confessed as we connect with a God who heals?

But I'm afraid we all think we need to be dressed up for Jesus.

Believers have been lulled into this philosophy of holding together a pretty facade and acting like everything is okay.  Heaven forbid someone there realizes just how much we struggle.  Christians are the ones who are supposed to be well and happy and content and whole, right?  

So as the Casting Crown song Stained Glass Masquerade says:

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

We throw on our make-up and our pretty clothes--more casual than in generations past.  Yet, still--we hide behind our "Sunday best."  Gotta be dressed up for Jesus, you know!

And those who aren't believers see it all for what it is.  For what we believers pretend isn't happening.  Phony.  Plastic.  Hyprocritical.  Because they know the truth of it more than most of us might admit.  We mess up.  We live messy lives.  We hide our faults and weaknesses and pretend we got it all together.   And it repels the world around us.  Which completely and utterly denies the very Jesus we proclaim.

It denies our need for His completeness.  For His healing.  For His strength for day to day.  It denies the very heart of the gospel.  We will always fall short.  We will wrestle through struggles.  We will have times where we doubt God.  When we lack faith.  When we fall short.  When we become actors, masking our hurts because we think we gotta be well before we go to the hospital.

And it's exhausting.  And ridiculous.  

We don't have to dress up for Jesus.

We can come without make up.  We can come with our doubts.  We can admit our anger toward God.  Just like David did.  Or the prophet Jeremiah.  Or Job.  Indeed, there are some encouraging Biblical passages where great Biblical characters readily and openly admitted how they felt God was ignoring them.  Punishing them.  And they were flat out angry at Him.

These men are considered founders of our faith.  

They did not dress up for Jesus.

We can come with our struggles and our hurts and our failings.  Truth of it is, Jesus invited us to fellowship with him.  And it's a Come As You Are party.  Tattooos.  Piercings.  Clean cut.  Dirty.  Casual.  Formal.  White collar.  Blue collar.  Single.  Married. Divorced.  Gay.  Straight.  Addicted.  On the road to recovery.  Hurting.  Bleeding.  Dealing with scars.  Homeless.  Rich.  Hungry.  Fed.  Young.  Old. 

He just doesn't care.  

Because as the Son of the Most High God, He came as the solution for our "come as we are."  He is the way to get from where we are to where He wants to take us.  Covered in grace.  Washed by the blood.  Welcomed for all of eternity.  Wrapped in His arms of love, sheltered by His mercy.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

We feel laid bare when we let it all hang out.  So we stuff it all behind some pretty package and pretend.  We save our make-up for Sundays, using our concealer and hoping our faults aren't obvious.

But, He knows better.  He already knows our faults and failings and our struggles and our hurts.  Even better than we do.  He sees our most ugly attributes.  The ones we work desperately to ignore--especially in a church setting.

And His response?

Like a father has compassion on his children, He has compassion on us. 

Truth of it is, we are never too ugly for Him.  He sees our nakedness.  He knows our sins.  And He responds by clothing us in righteousness.

We don't have to be dressed up for Jesus.

For He gave it all to give us a new wardrobe.    

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