The casual approach

The casual approach

Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.
– Exodus 25:31

Back in the day people would dress to the nines for church.  It was all about putting on your Sunday best to meet with the Lord.  Nowadays, we’ve adopted a “come as you are” philosophy.  Don’t worry about how you look; God doesn’t care.  If you want to roll up to church in cutoffs and a tank top, we’re cool with that.  This same attitude is trending in church building design as well.  Gone are the days when tall steeples, grandiose sanctuaries, and exquisite artwork were the calling cards of church buildings.  Current churches have jettisoned these sacred spaces for storefronts, warehouses, and casual coffee shops.

One read through Exodus 25 left me thinking we might be missing something in this casual, carefree approach to worshiping God.  The God of Israel seems committed to having things set up just so in the tabernacle.  He submitted intricate designs to the craftsmen and artisans; complete with detailed measurements and costly materials.  God clearly wanted the tabernacle to inspire beauty, place value, and inspire awe and wonder in those who were to encounter His presence there.  Has the privilege of gaining access to the very presence of God become lost on us?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that wearing suits and dresses equates to holiness, or accomplishes the same purpose as the tabernacle.  There are plenty of reprobates out there dressed in fine clothes.  It follows that any environment, or humble dwelling is a fitting place to worship God.  The higher the steeple, or more ornate the stained glass has little consequence upon a congregation’s ability to connect with God.  However, even as we have squashed the prudish, condescending experience from the church of yesteryear, have we lost something of the sacred in our push for all things casual?  After all, it still follows that when I take my wife out for a special occasion we get all dressed up.  Why?

Because it’s special that’s why.

I’m certainly not advocating a return to three piece suits and dresses down to the ankles.  The thought of that makes me nauseous.  Perhaps it’s more the loss of the sacred and holy.  We don’t experience these things through external appearances, rather, they are internal realities.  However, the external is often an indicator of what is happening internally.  I’m asking myself the question, “have I lost something in my casual approach to worship?”  What would it look like for me on the inside and out if I approached every encounter with God in awe, wonder, and with a deep sense of privilege?