Too many conversations are far too predictable. Praise the sovereignty of God in salvation and someone will inevitably remind you that God didn’t make robots. You will then remind said friend that dead people are passive people, only to be reminded that God is not willing that any should perish. Warn against the dangers of too much wine, and someone will in turn present the biblical praises for wine, and before long in the back and forth you can count on someone pointing out that sometimes oinos means grape juice. As soon as the conversation begins we know how it will end.
It is the habit of my family to dress for church. I have, on more than one occasion, argued in print that we casually worship a casual god because we enter into his presence casually. I have suggested that on the Lord’s Day we should dress as if we were going to meet the King, because we are going to meet the King. I know, from experience, that it won’t take long for someone to point out the obvious, that God looks not at the outward, but at the heart.
This nugget of wisdom is designed to make us comfortable, even in our comfortable clothes. The implicit message is Jesus doesn’t care what you wear, because He can see what a wonderful person you are. Unlike the modern day Pharisees who are always judging people, Jesus has the insight to really understand you. It is true enough that Jesus is far more concerned with what is in our heart than He is with what is on our backs. It is likewise true that Jesus knows exactly what is in our hearts. What confuses me, however, is how this is supposed to comfort me. Would I rather have Jesus judge me on the basis of my recently dry-cleaned suit, my well ironed dress shirt, and my just-so necktie, or would I rather He judge me on the basis of my desperately wicked, self-deceiving, black as ink heart?
What our “Come as you are” dress says about us is that we are meeting a “Come as you are” god. But if we come as we are, because of what we are, we are walking straight into the wrath of God; we are walking straight into hell. The God we worship is not a come as you are god. He is instead the true and living God who cannot even look upon sin. He is a consuming fire, who insists above all else that He be treated as holy.
The glory of the gospel is that God isn’t looking at my clothes when I come to worship. Whether I am dressed to the nines or dressed in flip-flops, He isn’t looking at my clothes. He is, however, looking at what I am wearing. And praise God what I’m wearing not only covers my body, but covers my heart as well. What I wear to worship is what I wear the rest of the week. I do not come dressed for a formal dance. I do not come dressed for a picnic on the beach. I come instead dressed like royalty. I come dressed like a prince. For I wear the righteousness of the Son of God. I do not come as I am. I come as I AM is.