Somebody once told my associate pastor that I “don’t look like a preacher.” That begs the question: what is a preacher supposed to look like? Is he expected to wear a clerical collar, a black robe and have a stern or “holy” expression on his face? Or is he supposed to have a round, pink face and a round body? I’ve never thought that I wanted to look like a preacher, until I heard Dr. Laurence White.
Dr. Laurence L. White is senior pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas. I heard him speak at an interdenominational pastor’s meeting in Washington. Wearing a black shirt and white clerical collar, looked over the crowd, most of whom were wearing business suits, and he said, “I want to say something to you Baptists who have forsaken the traditional garb of the clergy. There are some advantages to looking like clergy.” Then he told this story:
Rev. White was late for a speaking engagement in Georgia, and was driving way too fast, when he saw blue lights flashing in his rear view mirror. He pulled over, and the blue light pulled in behind him. The reverend noticed that the trooper who got out of the patrol car was very big. He pulled his belt up around his waist, and walked toward Rev. White’s car, his hand on his gun. When the trooper looked in the car window and saw Rev. White, with his black coat and shirt, and white clerical collar, he started to laugh. Rev. White thought, “Oh, no. He’s a Baptist deacon. I’m going to jail.”
But instead, the trooper leaned in, pointed his finger in Rev. White’s face, and said, “Forgive me, father, but you have sinned!” Then he gestured down the road with his hands open wide, and said, “Now go, and sin no more!”
So there can be advantages to looking like a preacher (or priest).
The Bible says that there is a clothing that all of us should wear. Job said, “I put on righteousness as my clothing” (Job 29:14, NIV). The apostle Paul tells us what we should look like: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience...” (Colossians 3:12, NIV).
So the clerical collar can be good and useful. But righteousness is even better.
Copyright 2007 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more “Holy Humor” on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.