The invitation said, ‘come as you are’. But what exactly does that mean? Does that mean I can wear the clothes I have just mowed the lawn in? Or perhaps, it means it is a casual event. Maybe it means we don’t need to bring anything because everything needed is provided. Those are all valid questions, trying to decipher what exactly ‘come as you are’ means. But I would venture to guess that when someone invites us to ‘come as we are’ they are not speaking about us bringing the pain we have been carrying around for days, week, months, or years. They probably don’t mean it is OK to bring the grief that is still raw or the upheaval we are experiencing in our lives. Because, you see, we live in a world where people ask how you are doing…but they really do not want to know. It is a formality, a greeting, just like saying hello. Face it, we all have issues with one thing or another and if we are honest, we do not really want to hear some one else’s problems. We have enough of our own.
We sing a song written by David Crowder entitled “Come as you Are”. It begins like this. Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been. Come broken hearted let rescue begin. Come find your mercy Oh sinner come kneel. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal. So, lay down your burdens. Lay down your shame. All who are broken lift up your face. Oh wanderer come home, you’re not too far. So, lay down your hurt, lay down your heart. Come as you are. That is followed by these words. There’s hope for the hopeless and all those who’ve strayed. Come sit at the table, come taste the grace. There’s rest for the weary rest that endures. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.
The world is much to busy and focused on itself to pay attention to people who carry heavy loads. But there is a place of refuge. This song reminds us that in Jesus Christ there is room for each and every one of us. It matters not what the challenges or issues are. It matters not whether the world sees you as invisible, a burden or excess baggage. This is the invitation of all invitations. Come as you are. Broken, grieving, successful beyond your wildest dreams, fearful, angry, hurt…you name it. Jesus throws open His arms and welcomes us all. I love the picture of His table, surrounded by people the rest of the world overlooks. They have come as they are.
But here is the thing about hanging out with Jesus. He welcomes us as we are…good, bad, and ugly too. And He will lavish His love on all comers. But Jesus does not leave us where we are. If we come to Him, He will work in and through us and we will be changed. It may not be an overnight change. It may take days, weeks, months, or even years. But He will transform us into the beloved son or daughter He has created us to be. Look at what Jesus says in John 6:37. “Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.” We always have a place with Jesus.
Think about some of the people who came to Jesus…as they were. Picture Jairus, the superintendent of the synagogue. His daughter was on her deathbed. He hadn’t slept for days out of worry. A man in his position was typically see out and about in the community perfectly put together, face oiled and clothes just so. But not that day. He was disheveled and unkempt, grieving, and desperate. He went to the only place he knew he could receive help. The blind beggars, lepers and the unclean that littered the roadways leading into towns in Israel were dirty and dusty. Maybe scared, weary of living as they were but having no hope that anything would change. When Jesus came along, they went to Him just as they were. However, Jesus did not leave them as they were. And they were changed. The blind could see. The deaf could hear the voices of their loved ones. The lepers…danced their way to the priests to show them they were now clean.
We come with shoulders slumped, faces stained with the tracks of tears. We come like pots in a full rolling boil of anger, hate, revenge. We come barely able to whisper because of the weight we carry. We come looking over our shoulders in fear, hoarse from yelling and maybe shaking our fists. We come bearing the weight of caring for a loved one or the worry of kids who struggle. Jesus welcomes us all. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. We are His hands and feet. Part of our call is to welcome people as they are. It is not easy. In fact, it is hard work. But we too have been welcomed at one point or another in our lives.
The invitation says, ‘come as you are’. But if you are coming to the Lord do not expect to stay that way.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W