Cogitation, to my mind, ranks right up there with industry and integrity, for it is a good thing to long consider concepts and notions, to thoroughly examine each one, to hold them to the light, to examine their facets–to scrutinize for flaw and any possible deficiency. I’ve been considering this subject for some time now, but the point at issue is elusive–especially an inoffensive way to state it–and slithers from my hand and head, except that its roots grind steadily in my heart and in my soul.
Think with me about these words of Paul–words with which almost everyone who is a student of the Bible will be familiar. The riveting words are found in the 14th verse of chapter 3 of Philippians.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”
I have outfitted myself in like clothing as the great Apostle; on my feet are running shoes, the wind is in my face, my eyes are fixed on the goal. I, as he, press for the prize. Look now, he names the prize . . . he calls it the high calling. Now we could postulate that Paul is referring to Heaven, and certainly I believe we would be within the mark in so doing, but for today, I’d like to back up and consider that the prize is actually the high calling, for certainly that calling leads us to Heaven.
Not long ago, I heard a minister relate an experience when he and his wife were tourists on Victoria Island in Vancouver and were waiting to be seated for dining at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Those in charge were speaking with the persons ahead of my friends and there was a stall in their being ushered into the dining room, for the gentlemen in the group ahead of my friends were wearing casual clothes–no coats, no ties. They were kindly taken to an anteroom, and shortly the group returned, the men wearing coats and ties.
Now before I proceed, let me acknowledge that I am not a young runner; indeed next Wednesday, the 24th of July, 2013, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. Hear me though: I am blessed with lucidity, a continued interest in the world around me, a concern with the progress of God’s Church, and I’m the possessor of common sense. Because of my common sense and my clear thinking I know my thoughts and conclusions logically may differ radically from those of a much younger age. I give you that. There are, though, principles and established truths that do not change because of the variance of one’s age.
My heart is grieved, and I am soul-sick when I observe Christians who attend God’s house dressed in a casual, off-handed way. I can’t help myself; it troubles me. Oh, I know the arguments: God doesn’t look on the outward appearance, we want to relate, we want people to be comfortable, we don’t want visitors intimidated by suits and ties . . . I’m especially struck with sadness when I observe leaders, platform workers, musicians, and ministers who dress in this way. Does not God’s house deserve as much respect and honor as come from patrons of the Empress hotel dining room, symphony orchestra chambers, and other fine facilities and activities?
Are we not pressing for the mark where is the prize of the high calling? A high calling, a heavenly calling, surely suggests my finest effort, and while I am still called during picnics and as I work about my house, where I definitely will not be wearing dress clothes, when I go into His house, should I not wear my finest? Should I not attend with my keenest of thought? My mind stayed on Him . . . on pleasing Him?
Attorneys attire themselves in suit and tie when they appear in court where their job is to uphold the constitution. I suspect should they attempt to present a case with their feet ensconced in ragged tennis shoes and a tee-shirt covering their chest, it is likely they would be held in contempt. I was appalled when sometime ago I saw images of persons standing in line to visit the White House, dressed slovenly with flipflops on their feet. I submit that America’s deterioration in dress has contributed to, or perhaps is a reflection of the sad crumbling of our society. It has drastically affected our schools and our workplaces.
To have this same downward trend now edge its way into God’s house seems unacceptable to me, for though defending people’s rights and the constitution, and paying respect to our government is crucial, neither of those is on equal footing with that one who is part of the high calling of Jesus Christ.
I have no official office, am no one’s boss, and certainly have no intention of trying to “set straight” the ministry. I’m not here to judge anyone, and I certainly do not wish to be a crotchety old lady who finds fault with everything. My heart dwells not in those places, but deep inside my soul is a spot of grief, and when I see an image of disrespect today or tonight in God’s house, I will again be saddened.
But my high calling will prevail. I will close my eyes, look past those simple things that trouble me, and I will concentrate on Jesus Christ the righteous. I will offer myself to him–my pitiful, wretched self, made holy only by His grace and His mercy.
I definitely want to hear your thoughts about this subject–both pro and con. If you have come over from facebook and want to comment over there, please also comment here…..appreciate it. I’m interested in what you have to say.