Of Flipflops and the High Calling

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.

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About Shirley Buxton

Still full of life and ready to be on the move, Shirley at 78 years old feels blessed to have lots of energy and to be full of optimism. She has been married to Jerry for 60 years. They have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren...all beautiful and highly intelligent--of course. :)
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7 Responses to Of Flipflops and the High Calling

  1. Linda Martin says:

    Sis. Buxton: I agree wholeheartedly, Thankfully our pastor teaches the proper way to enter Gods house, I grew up in the 60’s and never a problem on how we would enter except in our best and ready to worship, I believe if satan can make us casual in our spirit we will not put our whole heart into real worship and it will began to hender our entire walk with the Lord… The pastors must 1st be that example and teach it….

    ————

    • Linda, thank you so much for this response. If we as women of God who are striving to be authentically holy will speak our thoughts in a respectful, caring way, perhaps we can be a help to our leaders. They have such a difficult job….always walking a tightrope. Blessings always.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sis. Buxton,

    I am a young lady who feels your heartbeat on this subject. Just the other day my husband and I had a similar conversation. Ours was specifically about wearing a suit, especially to a conference but also to the house of God. I don’t know that dressing up is necessary for salvation, but we talked about what businessmen wear when taking care of business, and what an attorney wears to court; or how royalty dresses when working with the people on issues of the kingdom. To me, we serve the king of kings! Why would we not want to put our best foot forward when coming to his house, or going about his business.

    I feel the same about the bare legged trend, taking over the ladies in our assemblies as well. Is it sin? Probably not, but it’s not dressy and its not classy. It’s so disappointing to see someone so dressed up, but looking so underdressed. I hate hosiery as much as anyone, but feel so bare and exposed in the house of the king. I guess I’m a square peg in a round hole, but I don’t fit much in this world anymore. Love and appreciate your writing and your ability to provoke my spirit to thoughtfulness and prayerfulness.

    ~Anna B.

  3. Doretha Fields says:

    Love your thoughts and the message! I do see a trend, and although I feel for some of the ladies in very hot humid areas, I still feel like we are going into the presence of the King, and He deserves our very finest. A small sacrifice goes along ways in being respectful of His house and honoring the Lord of Lords. I Love your way with words, what a gift!!

  4. Roxanne Murphy says:

    I guess it depends on how one views ‘the house of God’. Is it a formal, members only, venue? Or is it a place where lost,hurting, searching souls who need Jesus can come to find hope and healing? I look at this subject through my nursing experience: sick and injured individuals do not dress up to go to the doctor. Likewise, those who work directly to provide care to those who are in need do not wear fancy formal clothes. Now, if one sees church as a fancy restaurant, or the opera house, or a formal social gathering place, then I suppose formal attire is expected.
    So my question is: what is the purpose of the church? And what is our function in the church? Is the church house some derivative of royal courts? Are we wannabe courtiers in the palace looking our best because it is a status thing?
    Or is the church the place where hungry souls are fed the living Bread, thirsty souls are allowed to drink freely of that Living water; a place where the gospel is preached to the poor, the broken hearted find healing, captives are delivered from their caprivity and the bruised (crushed) are set free?

    • Roxanne, I’m sorry about my slow response to your remarks here. The church is a hospital where the hurting, wounded, crushed, hungry and dying come in hopes of salvation. Certainly this is true, and my post is not directed to those who have not found God, for those are welcome in rags, in a drunken state, or high on drugs. I’m sorry I did not make clear that I was speaking especially to those in leadership and to others who already have become Christians.

      Further, we should not view visitor’s attire in a judgmental nor demeaning way, but should go out of our way to make them feel welcome and accepted.

      God’s blessings on you and yours.

  5. cliff says:

    You have the gift of knowledge that exceeds other peoples time line and design. Its called Gods evolution. To exceed it you have to ask god and he will allow it for his reasons only. That’s what you tell people that don’t understand. As for yourself the same.

    Cliff, thank you for taking the time to be here and to comment. Praying God’s blessings on you.

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