I have trouble trusting really well-dressed pastors who look like they stepped out of a GQ ad. Maybe it’s the whole life-of-poverty thing that Jesus seemed to live by. So if you’re wearing a bow tie and/or pin stripes right now, don’t let the people get to you!
I remember being an offended kid who was told it was disrespectful to wear a hat in church. Disrespectful to who? The God of the Universe who died to free us from sin and death? Oh, that makes sense. And then as I came to work for the church, I’ve enjoyed people saying that pastors are supposed to wear neckties (clerical collars I’d understand, but neckties?), and that I dressed like I was poor (which once resulted in someone giving me a lot of money to go buy nice clothes…score!?) If we want our dress to be respectful to God according to the Bible, we’re all in big trouble (no poly-blended materials, no jewelry or make-up ladies!). And yet, only the Amish seem to take that part of the Bible seriously.
Charles is quoting from his obscure hymn “The Means of Grace.” Means of grace are the “outward signs, words, or actions [chosen] by God…to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men [prevenient], justifying, or sanctifying grace” (John’s sermon The Means of Grace, II.1). In other words, God has promised to heap grace upon grace when we pray, read scripture, fast, take the sacraments, worship, care for those in need. Maybe the reason we focus more on the way people dress in church is so we don’t have to take the actual means of grace seriously. The problem is then we miss out on actual blessing and trade it in for the praises of others.