Every Man a Judge10:32 AM
A little Sew & Vac hides rather shabbily on Main Steet. An interesting character presides there, sometimes in, sometimes not, his sewing machines not very reliable, his impatience rather legendary. My mother, who always dresses very motherly and conservatively, hopped in on vacuum business - so I think. She brought home nothing except a very strange question: "Are you Mormon?"
We girls dress in skirts almost exclusively, for various reasons. Our boys keep their pants up. That twelve-passenger van of ours is starting to get crowded. We are, for the most part, rather shy and quiet and mannerly, so a religion of some sort had to be working underneath it all. We consider modest dress and behavior a testimony to Christ; we love children because we believe they're blessings from God. We hope to spread both messages through creed and action.
But Mormons? Well, er, not exactly the testimony we wanted to give.
Sometimes we convicted Christians forget that outward appearance - including such good Christian values as modesty, cleanliness and cheerfulness - only goes so far. It is not the Gospel. Bible-believing, born-again Christians can be mistaken for cultists; cultists can be mistaken for Bible-believing, born-again Chrisitans...if we stop at mere outward appearance. Repeat: That is not the Gospel.
The Gospel of grace can be applied to the most immodest, wordly person out there. Anyone can zip their sweater to their chin and pull their cuffs to their fingertips.
I know I struggle with making appearances everything, with thinking that if I smile and am sweet and wear pretty, feminine dresses, I am being a testimony to Christ. I am. Modesty and femininity are godly, Christ-like attitudes to cultivate and express in clothing and manner. But I can't stop there. I must speak the Gospel, live the Gospel, match my heart to what my clothes preach.
There are people going to heaven who wear ripped jeans and tank tops. And those people dressed in long sleeves and jumpers may not. Double repeat: Outward appearances are not the Gospel.
What, then? Do we give up dressing modestly because it only goes so far? Do we, as one Christian lady encouraged, not wear skirts exclusively lest we be thought cultists (or fuddie duddies)? No, of course not. We must continue to make purity statements, modesty statements and encourage brothers and sisters in the Lord to dress for Jesus. That does not give us the right to determine who is "in" and who is "out" based on their dress.
And a word of warning to us who preach partial amnesty on this issue: Are we too liberal? I don't believe I've ever found anyone who floated their boat down the middle of this issue. We point fingers too at "weaker" siblings in Christ and pray for their "deliverance." I speak, primarily, to me.
Immodesty is not evidence of "freedom in Christ" nor is it necessarily an indication of heresy, either. Modesty is not necessarily an indication of a "captive for Christ" nor is it a prude alert.
A little grace, please. And a little more judgment of our own outward appearance.