Call me a walking contradiction:
A free-thinking, contemporary urban Renaissance man tied to a symbol of traditionalism.
But with custom comes assurance that grows with affirmation. After the fickleness of the 70’s, greed of the 80’s, and the truth-twisting of the 90’s, I came to see the wisdom of our elders’ beliefs — that wearing fine clothes, from head to toe, was how mortals showed reverence to God.
So, why dress up for church?
Genesis 35:1-3 may shed some light on the subject. It is possible that as Jacob began this faith-journey to Bethel with God, he recognized how much God had done for him, and how much he needed God! His response was to take everyone with him on this faith-journey, so they could experience God for themselves. “Get rid of the strange gods you have with you. Make yourselves pure” implies the need to be united in “coming clean” before God. “For all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23). Many then had “household idols” with them that they depended on, as well as God. They did not trust God alone. “Change your clothes” implies a change of heart toward sin. It was to be a reflection of what had taken place on the “inside.”
On Sunday mornings all over the Chicagoland area, a parade of the sharp dressed men and women can be seen on street corners in the Austin neighborhood, at bus stops in Bronzeville, and in soul food restaurants after morning service. Dress is usually more formal for Black Christians when they attend worship or other religious gatherings. Many white Christians seem to like to dress informally, wearing even jeans or shorts to Sunday morning church services. This is very foreign and can be demeaning in the eyes of some Black Christians.
I see God’s house as a place that gives African Americans hope in times of despair. Additionally, it is the dream of heavenly salvation that sustained us for so long and deserves our respect in spite of its weaknesses. Therefore, I decided to wear suits to personally show my reverence to God.
What’s your take?
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