Come As You Are

I was about ten-years-old when I found myself standing in front of the back door of my childhood home ready to go to church with my mother on Easter Sunday. As my mother was gathering her purse and car keys, she turned around and looked at me in horror.

“You are wearing blue jeans?” she asked me in a raised voice. “You can’t go to church in blue jeans. We are Presbyterians, not Methodists!”

Quickly, in a hurry, my mother threw a pair of my dress slacks on the iron board. As she ironed out the wrinkles, she also expressed her frustration that I had not hung up my dress slacks properly.

“If you walk into church with wrinkled clothing, you will embarrass me,” she said angrily. “Here, put these on,” she said as she threw my slacks back at me. “Your sister and I will be waiting in the car.”

While my mother had the belief that people had to dress up to attend church, I like to believe God accepts us for who we are. Especially when we find ourselves walking into a house of worship. While sometimes people prefer to wear their best clothing to church, I like to believe the diversity of people wearing what the feel called to wear, dressed up or not, reflects the variety of people who make up the body of Christ. And together, all of us are children of a God who accepts and love us unconditionally–no matter who we are and of course, how we dress.

“All those the Creator gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away,” Jesus tells us in John 6:37.

Even though most people agree that it doesn’t matter what we wear to church because God loves us anyway, a lot of people struggle with the belief that they have to present themselves a certain way to be loved and accepted by God. For them, it’s feeling as if they have to present themselves as having overcome their addictions, relationship struggles, personal issues, and even their feelings of doubt, skepticism, to be loved and accepted as a child of God.

But the reality is that it just doesn’t matter how we present ourselves in church, it also doesn’t matter in how we present ourselves to God. For it’s through Jesus Christ that we are loved and accepted by God even if our personal appearance and our personal lives are, for a lack of better terms, “a hot mess.”

While it may be awhile for many of us to feel comfortable in church wearing blue jeans, may we find comfort in knowing that through Jesus Christ, we all are loved and accepted by God just as the way we are. Even if in reality our clothes really would look better if they were ironed.

Christopher L. Schilling is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), hospital and Air Force chaplain, and a freelance writer.