The following is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes, which is available now. The book recounts my thoughts during the four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity.
- A few years ago, my wife and I visited a church to determine if I wanted to become their new pastor. We drove to the church early on that warm, October morning, full of hope and expectation. When we walked into the small fellowship hall, it was obvious we were the visiting pastors, for new, younger faces are easy to spot in this small, elderly congregation. As we passed through the fellowship hall on our way to the sanctuary, one lady gave us a short glance, quickly scanned Barbara up and down, and walked by us without saying a word. Little did we know we had just committed a cardinal sin in this small church: we were not appropriately attired.
We didn’t mean to be under dressed; it just happened. Yes, we were fully covered, but not in their eyes. You see, my wife made the horrible mistake of wearing a pretty black dress that did not fully cover her knees. That didn’t bother me — I kinda like her knees. But it obviously bothered this woman. A lot. Furthermore, I chose to wear a suit and a silk pullover shirt but no tie. Strike two. The odds were stacked against us and we hadn’t even introduced ourselves. It was going to be a long day.
When I look back on it, I see that Barbara and I had a different definition of holiness than the saints of this small congregation. Without knowing our hearts, some pre-judged us as Christians based on nothing more than what we were wearing.