Monday, August 01, 2005

How Casual is Too Casual?

I just heard a news report asking the question, "How Casual is Too Casual?" at work. The report talked about how people are showing up to work in flip-flops. They said that our culture has gotten very individualized...with personal phones and personal computers. It's a very "me" focused world so it's only natural that we want to dress to please ourselves and not others. But they said that we should stick to flip-flops at the beach.

I can relate to the desire to be casual. I just mentioned in church yesterday how I always try to dress as casually as I possibly can. I'd preach in flip-flops myself if I thought people would be okay with it ( I don't!). There's something about dressing down that seems to trick my mind into thinking I'm not working if I'm dressed like I'm on vacation.

I'm reminded of how my son would often go to high school in his pajama bottoms. In fact, I was in a very classy restaurant last week on vacation, and the owner came to our table with a glass of wine and pajama bottoms (thankfully he had a shirt on!). I thought it was interesting but not too strange...which is strange in itself that our culture has so quickly drifted to being so casual.

Applying all this talk to church...Cedarbrook is a super casual church. I heard someone say once about Cedarbrook that what they liked about it is that they can wear a dress or show up in their pajama bottoms and they fit in either way. I guess not too many churches can say that! But that begs the question...where is the reverance? Where is the sense of awe?

I agree that some church buildings (i.e. cathedrals, etc.) produce a sense of awe just walking into them. You won't get that at the CineMagic Theatre (where we meet for church). And some services produce a sense of awe (organ, silence, liturgy, etc). But what I like about being casual -and this is why we will always be casual - is that it reflects an approachableness. God is approachable. Many, many people don't know that. They are afraid of God, convinced that he is against them. But Jesus died so we could approach God without wincing. His death removed the unapproachableness of God. The book of Hebrews said that we can "boldly" go into his presence.

Now, we can miss the point and get too familiar. We can take God's approachableness for granted and think we can "slap God on the back" so to speak, like a good-'ol boy. It's one thing to be invited into the Oval Office to meet the President. It's another thing to put your feet up on his desk and smoke a cigar!

I guess, what I'm getting at here is that the reverance and awe that we try to manufacture in structure of service and buildings often does more damage than good. It scares people away from God. That's not a good thing. Our reverence and awe should come from within our heart when we encounter God and that can happen even in our pajama bottoms and flip-flops. Like the Bible says, God looks at our heart. He's not as concerned as we are about what's on the outside.

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