Our High Calling
Many ministers seem to have lost that precious sense of their high calling (Philippians 3:14). Was it not C. H. Spurgeon who said something like this: “I would be very sad if my son were called to be a missionary and dribbled down to become a king”?
Ministers are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is a high and holy calling. What ambassador of an important country, when on official state business, would dress casually, or still worse, scruffily? What ambassador, when delivering an important communication from her Majesty, the Queen, when addressing the recipients of that royal message, would do so with their hands in their trouser pockets? It used to be considered rude to talk to someone important with one’s hands in one’s pockets. And are not our hearers worthy of respect?
Yet, many ministers today, when preaching the glorious gospel, dress casually or even untidily. They lounge about, hands in trouser pockets, cracking jokes, instead of declaring the most important message in the world in a dignified and earnest manner.
The inconsistency of this behaviour is revealed when they attend a wedding and dress up for it; or when they attend a funeral and dress soberly. Why do they do that? Is it not out of respect for the bride and bridegroom? Is it not to honour the deceased person? In other words, they dress to honour the person or persons at the centre of the service. Who is, or who is supposed to be, at the centre of our worship services? Is it not almighty God, creator of the universe? Is it not our Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of Lords? Should we not be recognizing God’s presence and honouring Him? Should we not be exalting the Lord Jesus not in word only but in the way we dress? Does not the Scripture command, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”? This can be rendered, “Worship the Lord in holy array” (Psalm 29:2 NASV). No wonder people do not believe, and do not respect Christ when his ministers show Him such scant respect, and treat worship as such a casual activity.
An evangelist, in giving his testimony, spoke of how before his conversion, he was approached by a man who was smartly dressed and spoke with a cultured accent. This man invited him to a meeting after which he became a Christian. He remarked, “If he had been dressed like us and had spoken like us I would not have listened to him.” This is not to argue for showy clothing or expensive tastes, but to present the case for smart, dignified clothing, in keeping with our high calling. Often on TV one can observe sports commentators, smartly dressed, wearing ties, etc. This is in marked contrast to the way some ministers dress. No wonder many people consider sport to be more important than Christianity.
Now all this is assuming that the three basic essentials of the ministry are in place, namely, a holy life, sound doctrine through the inspired Word, and the dynamic, the power, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. These may be considered as “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) as all three centre on Christ and are available only through Him. If one or more of these three essentials is missing, it matters little how ministers dress. Their ministry will be ineffective. Some dress down because they lack the power of the Holy Spirit, and they hope to get “pally” with their hearers in this way. It may produce a temporary affinity, but it does not produce spiritual results in the long run.