One of the most well known “invitation” songs is “Just As I Am”. It conjures up in our minds the notion that wherever we might be in our journey called life, God invites us where we are. Didn’t Phillip begin teaching the nobleman from Ethiopia where he was? And the eunuch just happened to be reading in Isaiah. So the evangelist began at that scripture and preached Jesus to him.
But what about all those people who aren’t familiar with Isaiah? What about those who aren’t in John or Acts or much of anything spiritual? What about those who are “in sin”? Do “we” really want them “just as they are”? Are we willing to take them to where they should be? Or would we prefer them as they “were”?
Drug addicts need Jesus. But we want them as they were before they got on drugs. Drunks need Jesus. But we want them clean and sober “as they were” before their alcoholism. Prostitutes deserve the mercy of Christ but we’d rather have virgins as converts. Divorced people need grace but some of my brethren would have them only “as they were”.
Do we condone divorce/sin? Of course not. But we reject a cheap grace that depends more on us than Him. We deny that God won’t accept and save people who have messed up their lives royally yet are willing to cast themselves by faith at the mercy seat of God. The song is “Just As I Am” not “Just As I Was”.
Remember the woman at the well? Jesus received her where she was and she became an instant mouthpiece for the cause. Not only might some of us stifle her confession because of her gender, but we’d not even baptize her until we counseled her and solicited a promise of celibacy. Yet we still invite people to come to Jesus “just as they are”.
Steven Clark Goad
The Examiner – September 1993