I had a bit of a “revelation” recently. I started thinking about Christ’s enemies, the Pharisees. In Matthew 23.27-28, Christ proclaims judgment on the Pharisees for their hypocritical behavior. In the previous verses, he condemns them for cleaning the outside of the cup, but leaving the inside filthy, full of greed and self-indulgence.
Conversely, Jesus proclaims blessing on the tax collectors (who, in that day, were known for being cheats, swindlers, and thieves, in addition to being traitors to Jewish tradition by allowing the Roman government to sign their paychecks) in Luke 18.9-14. Christ commends this man for his honesty. For his willingness to come face to face with his brokenness and ask God to forgive him. The man went to God in the middle of his sin; he didn’t cover it up or hide it behind nice clean robes. He put his rags out there for all to see.
I’m not saying that throwing on a pair of jeans to go to church is equivalent to putting our sinfulness on display. But I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about myself. . .
Growing up, getting dressed up for church was the thing to do. Everyone at church was in a jacket and tie or a nice dress. As I grew up, I began using the suit as a way to keep people out. As I tied my Windsor knot (or Four-in-Hand, as the occasion or shirt collar called for it), I would look in the mirror and notice that I looked well put-together. To the casual observer, I had everything in order.
But to the keen eye (namely, God’s), my life was a mess. Underneath the necktie, the European-vent suit coat, and the crisply pressed shirt was a man whose brokenness was suppressed. I lied to myself every Sunday.
I lied to God every Sunday.
I’m not an advocate of being casual at church. I’m an advocate of being honest. I’m an advocate of letting God see inside you. For me, that meant tearing down the barrier of the suit. I know where my mind used to go whenever I put on the jacket. Somewhere in the back of my thought closet a voice would say, “Put on the jacket. God can’t see through that.”
But how can God fix us if we’re not willing to reveal the fact that we’re broken?