One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out old bible. The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. It had high cathedral ceilings, ornate statues, beautiful murals and stained glass windows, plush carpet, and velvet like cushioned pews. The building must have cost many millions of dollars to build and maintain. The men, women and children of the congregation were all dressed in the finest and most expensive suits, dresses, shoes, and jewelry the old cowboy had ever witnessed.
As the poorly dressed cowboy took a seat the others moved away from him. No one greeted him. No one welcomed him. No one offered a handshake. No one spoke to him. They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide the fact. There were many glances in his direction as the others frowned and
commented among themselves about his shabby attire. A few chuckles and giggles came from some of the younger members.
The preacher gave a long sermon about Hellfire and brimstone and a stern lecture on how much money the church needed to do God’s work. When the offering plate was passed thousands of dollars came pouring forth.
As soon as the service was over the congregation hurried out. Once again no one spoke or even nodded to the stranger in the ragged clothes and boots. As the old cowboy was leaving the church the preacher approached him. Instead of welcoming him, the preacher asked the cowboy to do him a favor. “Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worshiping in this church,” the preacher said. The old cowboy assured the preacher he would do that and left.
The very next Sunday morning the old cowboy showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again the congregation was appalled at his appearance. He was completely shunned and ignored again. The preacher noticed the man still wearing his ragged clothes and boots, and instead of beginning his sermon, stepped down from the pulpit and walked over to where the man sat alone. “I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church,” the preacher said.
“I did,” replied the old cowboy.
“If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?” asked the preacher.
“Well sir”, said the old cowboy, “God told me that He wouldn’t have the slightest idea what was appropriate attire for worshiping in your church. He says He’s never even been in here before.”