This issue has been coming up a lot with me personally, with friends who I have talked to, and was even touched on last Sunday at church. We talked about having Christian freedoms at church, but some people tack on additional rules of what seems right to them.
For example, I was raised in the Bible belt where it was customary to wear a dress or at least dress up for church. Where I live now, our church is very casual. It is not unusual to see many, including myself, in a pair of jeans in church on Sunday.
Last weekend, my son came home from church wearing a pair of Adidas black workout pants with a red God’s Not Dead T-shirt from the Newsboys concert. I immediately saw his workout pants and asked if that was what he had worn to church. He immediately asked me if I had ever heard the Lecrae’s song Church Clothes. I had heard it, and I had to chuckle. He continued, and said, “Jesus doesn’t care that I am wearing this.”
He was right. In my mind with the way I was raised, I thought, I can’t believe he wore workout pants to church. The truth of it was that my 16 year old son had gotten up early to be at the church that morning by 7:30am while I still laid in my bed sleeping. He did the slide shows on the screens in the sanctuary for all the worship and sermon portions for 2 services. I went to one service and then left without seeing him. So, then when he gets home from serving the Lord, I criticize him on what he is wearing.
I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with me. Here my son desires to go serve the Lord, and I am going to pick on him about his pants. My issue was personal, not biblical. He was perfectly modest in his attire. I was not catching him in sin. I should have kept my mouth shut. It made me think about the story in James 2.
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:1-9 (NIV)
If you discriminate against someone who lives in a particular neighborhood, then that is a personal issue, not a biblical one. If you have an issue with your friend who is gluten free, then you have a personal issue, not a biblical one. If you have a female friend who is having lunch with a male coworker several times a week and not telling her husband, that is a biblical issue, not a personal one. She is lying to her husband by not telling him the whole truth of what she is doing, and further sin could be lurking at the door. You get the point.
I surely don’t want to be the one to add rules or conditions to my relationships which are not even biblical. Those would be impossible standards to keep up with anyway. I have really been trying to take every thought captive, to turn it over and over in my mind and to pray over it if it bothers me to see if what I am wrestling with is truly biblical or is a personal issue. Those two things are very different indeed. It has been super helpful to me. Most of the time the issue for me is personal, and I can through Christ cover it with the same grace which has been shown to me.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-3