This is a common theme in the songs we sing: come as you are.
What a wonderful
thing to be reminded of!
Our natural inclination is to believe the opposite: the way we are disqualifies us from coming. Something drastic needs to change before we could approach Him; before we could be in His presence without wincing or cowering.
And although we can find ample evidence within ourselves that that should be true, it isn’t! The truth is:
But… WHY does it say that? How can it be? God is holy (perfect, pure, unstained, altogether “other”)! It’s not like God can dwell with sin. It’s not as though He sees us in our sin and then shrugs it off because, well, it’s not that big of a deal. No! We know that can’t be true. We know He has a very deep hatred for sin and is always grieved by it. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
Here is the reason why we see those invitations in the Bible: Jesus.
God didn’t, and never will, wink at sin – there must be a consequence and punishment. “The wages of sin is death,” we read in Romans 6:23. Because God is holy and just, He has to have wrath towards sin! There has to be a separation between it and Him.
But, why don’t we see Jesus separated from the “sinners” of His day?
“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.” (Matthew 9:10)
In fact, Jesus was ridiculed for his friendship with the less than honorable citizens of his day. Why did He choose to spend His time with them? Why did He reserve His harshest words not for the “sinners”, but for the “moral”?
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
It isn’t that Jesus is condoning sin when He had dinner and built friendships with sinners! He called them, along with everyone else, to repentance and saving faith. It’s actually that those supposed “sinners” are the ones who are the closest to the truth! They know better than the proverbial “Pharisee” that they need a Savior. They are well acquainted with their sin and how deep down it goes. They are quick to confess and repent. They are fully convinced there is no way for them to ever clean themselves up enough to be in right relationship with God. And that’s why the broken, humble, needy, messy, desperate, heavy-hearted “sinner” (which we all are!), is welcomed and invited to draw near to Him! The invitation isn’t only to come; but to come through Him.
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He made provision for us to draw near, as we are, because Jesus absorbed the wrath of God toward our sin on the cross. It no longer prevents us from coming!
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession… Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14, 16)
That hunch we have that something needs to change in order for us to come isn’t entirely wrong. Something did need to happen, and Jesus did it. He bridged the gap. He made a way where there was no way. We hear the verse “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and can’t help but rejoice! We can come as we are, because Jesus was crucified and buried in our place, and has risen and reigns forever, so that we might be made new.
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