THE God of ancient Israel was a God of order. He was particular about the appearance of the camp and the conduct and hygiene of His people. He is just the same today.
Through His servant Paul, God says to us today, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40).
The word decent has some interesting meanings. First of all, according to Webster, that which is decent is characterized by propriety of conduct, speech, dress. It means suitably elegant, free from immodesty, coarseness, indelicacy. It implies conformity to standards of that which is fitting.
The word order indicates a condition in which there is a methodical, proper, and harmonious arrangement or disposition of things. It means straightening out so as to eliminate confusion. It's a proper working condition, a customary procedure.
Now we have a modern-day rendition of Paul's counsel: "Let all worship be suitably elegant and without confusion." This is proper platform decorum for men and things. It requires planning ahead.
Everything about the platform itself should be arranged harmoniously. Let the hymnbooks lean- against a similar chair leg and with titles facing the same way. Be sure there are enough chairs for all on the program. The eagle at the top of the flagpole should be facing the congregation, with the flag draped attractively in front of the pole. I had the privilege and opportunity to correspond with and sing for our former governor, now Senator Mark 0. Hatfield, a number of times. Not too many months ago we were in a meeting together, where, upon the arrival of the governor at that time, we found that the 'United States flag was not only on the wrong side of the platform but the eagle was turned toward the wall, and the pole was showing.
Be sure the floral arrangements are suitable and tastefully placed, considering shorter persons taking part in the service.
immodesty on the Platform
Decorum, order, decency begin with things. They are the subconscious influences attracting the Lord's blessing.
Then, of course, man—the Lord's instrument—adds the conscious element of elegance. The minister's clothes need to be characterized by propriety and modesty. Yes, it's even possible for men to be immodest. Though we don't offend by tugging at short skirts, we may be offensive in trousers that rise above our socks, unpolished shoes unsightly with dust and rain, buttons left carelessly open. There's nothing suitably elegant about hairy legs, Oregon mud, or even white undershirts!
The platform free from indelicacy has the pastor in clean shirt, well-pressed suit, appropriate tie, undistracting handkerchief. It also has men who are careful about the areas of the body which may be offensive in odor—the breath, the hair, the underarms. (Scope and Score and Old Spice are never too expensive—and this is not a paid commercial!)
Knowing your platform is attractive, your men appropriately attired, and your program planned ahead, you yourself will be relaxed and self-assured as you step onto the platform. You can kneel on time, rise, and sit together. You will not need to whisper about portions of the service, for everyone will know what he is to do.
We can sit erect, properly proud in the Lord that our service is "suitably elegant."
We will be attentive to each other, gathering inspiration from one portion of the service to the next.
Make Room for the Spirit
In short, brethren, if we would have the Holy Spirit do its work, we must make room for it. We will remember that heaven's first rule is order. That decorum includes crossing the legs at the ankles—or not at all if there are distracting holes in shoes needing a half sole.
A sign on my pulpit sums up the requirements of conduct, speech, and dress. Some Greeks used it when they came to Philip with the request, "Sir, we would see Jesus."
Let our congregations see Jesus without distractions from our organization, our person, our dress, our speech, our courtesy, or our code of behavior.
SIRS, THEY WOULD SEE JESUS.