Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Camouflage and Spurs

"Do you think it's OK for Adam to go to church with his spurs on?" One Sunday morning, my daughter Sheryle phoned to ask that question.

Five-year-old Adam chose his outfit for church: cowboy boots with spurs, camouflage pants, a Scooby Doo T-shirt and a button-up Spiderman shirt. Mix and Match clothing on the rack at Sears is cute. But this kid has an eye for the eclectic. For any mother who is delighted her children are dressing themselves, this presents a challenge.

The whole picture is about a child with five years of godly training, who is ready and willing to go to Bible class and worship. His heart was right, even though his sense of fashion lagged behind.

A familiar lesson, one from God to Samuel, comes to mind. When the prophet Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king, he saw seven fine looking sons. In Samuel's eyes, each looked suited to wear the royal robe. But God had the eighth son in mind.

The seven sons who were present in Bethlehem were consecrated, set apart, for a sacrificial ceremony. Clean clothes and baths were often part of the ritual. So they were spiffed up, ready for the big announcement. When the eldest son went by, Samuel thought he must be the chosen one, but God spoke to Samuel.

"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (16:7). God had the boy David in mind, the one rubbing shoulders with sunshine, sheep and shepherds.

Views about proper attire for worship are wide ranging. Some think we should always wear our best. Others are concerned about overdressing and making visitors who have less feel their dress is inadequate. The tendency is to notice folks who vary from my choice of clothing. Noticing is OK. Judging their character by their dress is not.

Did Jesus see a prostitute and think "unworthy"? Or did Jesus see thieving, gaudy tax collectors and think "He'll never change. He's not like the people I know"? Jesus saw potential in people. Willing hearts that could be loomed by the Lord, woven into servants.

Peter wrote a message to the women of his day, appropriate for all centuries. When he wrote about "fine women's apparel," he laid out a pattern for an inside garment, an echo of God's message to Samuel. (I Peter 3:3). Instead of the latest fashions, Peter encouraged the unfading loveliness that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit. Real beauty fabric.

On that Sunday morning, little Adam walked into Bible class with a slight spur-jingle. He brought smiles to his teachers' faces. I picture a grinning Jesus, too.

For it was Jesus who placed his hands on children and blessed them. Children finding their way to Jesus were rebuked by some adults. But a child's humility became an object lesson for his disciples. "For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14).

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