God’s Dress Code

Everyone had noticed the stranger
Coming into their church off the street.
Not quite the quality of person
Most of them had occasion to meet.

His clothing was so very common,
With his faded jeans and unshined shoes.
He was not the kind of a person
Who should occupy one of their pews.

He sat there alone before service,
And no one came over to greet him.
No one offered him a songbook;
No deacon came over to meet him.

And then when the service was over,
And the stranger was starting to leave,
The pastor walked over beside him,
Placing his hand on the stranger’s sleeve.

He said, “I can tell you’re a Christian,
And that you are no stranger to prayer.
If you plan to come back to our church,
Ask Jesus what he thinks you should wear.”

The next Sunday the stranger came back;
His clothes and appearance still the same.
No effort to make an improvement,
Showing no sign of remorse or shame.

Pastor asked, “Did you talk to Jesus?
Did you ask Jesus what you should wear?
You haven’t improved your appearance;
Do you think that our God doesn’t care?”

Then the stranger said to the pastor,
Who was standing there blocking the door,
“Jesus said that he couldn’t help me,
Because he’d never been here before.”

God’s Dress Code was derived from a story sent to me by a missionary in China. Of course I changed the story all around to be able to make it rhyme.

Christians too often attempt to make new converts into carbon copies of themselves. Early missionaries in tropical climates found that it was better to teach God’s love and the plan of salvation first, before trying to get the new converts dressed.

We have a friend who was a native of Pitcairn Island. She said that as a teenager, she thought it quite wicked to sneak over to a part of the island that the Seventh Day Adventists missionaries never visited and pig out on lobster. The missionaries never quite convinced her that eating shellfish was a sin.

Then there is the story about the missionary who told a newly converted tribal chief that he must have only one wife. The chief agreed, on the condition that the missionary be the one to tell his second wife’s father, who was a most feared leader of a neighboring tribe. The missionary decided that God was big enough to forgive the convert of such a small sin.


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