A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Dress Code

January 29th, 2007

Phil Collins is a popular and highly successful musician whose career has spanned several decades as a drummer and solo artist. Back in the early 80’s he was on tour with Robert Plant. They were staying at the Ambassador Hotel in Chicago. Between themselves, their band and their entourage they occupied about 30 rooms, paying exorbitant prices.

On the second night there, Collins went down to the hotel bar dressed in slacks, a nice shirt and a very expensive leather jacket. He was stopped at the door and told, “You can’t come in here without a jacket.” He said, “I’m wearing a jacket.” To which the reply came, “It’s not a proper jacket.

Collins wasn’t allowed into the bar, but got the last word when he named his next and most successful album “No Jacket Required”.

Sadly, I know people who’ve had similar experiences when visiting churches. Perhaps not quite as bluntly put, but nonetheless the message was communicated as to what was proper. The choir may be singing, “There’s Room At The Cross For You”, but the feeling you get is only if you’re wearing the right kind of suit.

During my seminary days I was on staff at First Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. The sign out front reflected the mission of the church. “Gentle, Caring, Biblical”. One Sunday morning a man came in late to the service. Chet Farrington, the best church greeter God ever made, welcomed him warmly with a handshake and a pat on the back as he handed him a bulletin.  

The man sat down in the back row. His dress was outlandish. Almost cartoonish. A white suit with lapels that could double as airplane wings. Gaudy jewelry. A shirt so neon bright it seemed the reason for the oversized sunglasses he wore. And the finishing touch to his ensemble, a flourescent pink feather boa wrapped once around the neck.

It was hard for me not to stare. He looked so out of place. But whose problem was that? Certainly not his. I felt like he would get up and leave at anytime. But he didn’t. He stayed for the entire message before quietly slipping out the back.

I never saw him again. But I’ve always thought that Chet’s warm welcome made him feel comfortable enough to stay the hour. Whatever else happened in that man’s life, he heard God’s truth at that moment in time. A warm welcome made all the difference.

Friends, the mystery of God’s grace is that God showed His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Which is to say God didn’t wait for us to clean up and put on a Sunday suit before meeting with us. He knew there was only one solution to our problem. Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins. Because of that gift, we are freely invited and warmly welcomed to “come as we are”.

No jacket required.

“For God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28