Obviously, we live in a casual culture. To some, Sunday-best clothing means wearing tennis shoes instead of flip flops. Others have been raised in a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ culture. If they aren’t wearing three-piece suits or dressy dresses in church, the chandeliers would dim with disapproval.
These formal and casual cultures often collide, but for the most part, ties have been shelved for their cruelty. Though there are extremes on both sides of the fashion runway, you can be stylish without looking silly, and you can look like a million without spending foolishly.
Granted, there is a Sunday-best side to holiness. It is dignified in its foundation. In biblical times, the high priest wore an ornate robe and jeweled headgear that symbolized his holy work in the temple. Though sandals were worn by people on both sides of the altar, first century Christians probably weren’t as fussy when it came to house-church attire.
Holiness is casual in that it doesn’t need to be dressed up to stand out. It is characterized by inner, spiritual beauty displayed outwardly by holy behavior. John’s suit of camel hair was acceptable for Jesus’ baptismal ceremony; and probably none of the disciples would be on the cover of a men’s fashion magazine. It wasn’t what they wore that turned the world upside down—or right side up, actually—it was what they were inside.
Holiness is a garment of surrender and obedience to Christ. It lives in purity among the impure. It speaks carefully in an age of tabloids. It is wholeheartedly devoted to Christ. It surprises its culture with the simplicity of the gospel. It is casual yet elegant in nature.
Paul said, “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (