Distinctive Dress

By Michael E. Brooks
nepaldress.JPG“Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV).
I continue to be fascinated by unique customs of dress in different locales, and among various ethnic peoples. In the Himalayas of Nepal there are several distinct groups, each with its own customary dress, especially for women and girls.
The Tamang ladies for instance use a black reversed wool apron to cover their hips and thighs to provide warmth and protection while they squat or sit in their work. In Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chakma women dress very attractively in colorful striped skirts, made of hand woven fabric.
Neither of these styles constitute a conscious uniform, nor is their primary purpose to identify the wearers’ tribal identity. Yet each of these results occur. One may know much about the person by simply observing what she wears. In Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Chakma women dress very attractively in colorful striped skirts, made of hand woven fabric.
Inspired writers in the New Testament urge Christians to dress distinctively. However the primary emphasis is not upon clothing of fabric, skin or other material. It is on the appearance of the heart. Peter lauded the beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, clothed with spiritual gifts of faith, joy, love, patience and virtue (Cf 2 Peter 1:5-8).
Paul also stressed inward (spiritual) beauty. “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper fo women professing godliness, with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
Social groups, generations, and tribes may be recognized by the style and luxury of their clothing. Christians are to be distinguished by the inner clothing of quiet and gentle spirits, filled with good works. It is our patience, our kindness, our purity of thought and deed which marks us as different from others. More importantly, it is these characteristics which form beauty and make followers of Jesus more attractive than others.

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