Throughout human history, there have been phrases that have been coined. Some phrases have been etched in our memory, our culture and our everyday speech. Other phrases have become altogether trite or cliche to the point that the phrase is no longer effective. There are even phrases that Christians have instituted which have been adopted in everyday language concerning those of us who are in Christ.
One such term is ‘Come as you are.’ This term or phrase is not found anywhere in the Bible in its exact wording, however, the concept of coming to Jesus or coming to God as you are is Biblical. The exact origin or even timeframe of the expression seems to be unknown or at the very least its origin is not altogether certain. Nevertheless, what is certain is that this phrase has made its way into Christendom. What does this phrase mean exactly?
Usually, this phrase is used to suggest to those who are non-Christians that they can freely come to Jesus for salvation in the condition that they are in. It can even be applied to Christians who need to recommit their lives to Christ and surrender all that they have and who they are in their entirety. The essential point is that ‘Coming as you are’ means that regardless of what your spiritual condition is, God wants you just as you are. It is meant to denote that even if your physical appearance (e.g. clothing) does not signify the lifestyle of a Christian who lives in modesty that anyone can come to Christ as they are in their current state.
However, it seems that this phrase has lost an important part of what it truly means to ‘Come as you are.’ Biblically, there are multiple parts as it relates to the process of salvation. The first is that there is the point of surrender. This means that an individual feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit which causes them to turn away from their sinful ways. It involves an active confession of their sins, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior and renouncing their lifestyle of sin.
Secondly there is the point of conversion or transformation. This means that the individual’s life is no longer the same as it was, but it has been transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit and the acceptance of Jesus Christ. Finally, there is the point of spreading the Gospel and the gift of salvation to others. It means that the converted is now taking on the responsibility of sharing with others the opportunity of conversion from darkness into the light of Christ.
In the book of Mark chapter 2, Jesus returned to a place called Capernaum. In this place, Jesus lodged as a guest at a local home. Eventually, the news of Jesus’ resting place became public and the house where he was staying became packed with visitors. In verses 3-4 of Mark chapter 2, we see that four men carry a paralyzed man to Jesus with the attempt to receive healing of the infirmity. However, because of the largeness of the crowd, they are unable to reach Jesus. So, they devise a plan to remove the roof of the house to have the paralyzed individual lowered in.
Verse 5 says:
(NLT) “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
In verse 11 Jesus gives the paralyzed man the command to get up. Jesus says,
(NLT) “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
(NLT) “And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
It is important to take note of a couple of principles from this scripture:
1. The paralyzed man came to Jesus to be transformed – Not only was the man paralyzed physically, but it is obvious that he committed some sort of sin or sins within his life, that needed forgiving by Jesus. Notice that in verses 3-4 that the paralyzed man and 4 others were intentional about seeing a change in his condition. So much so that they forcibly removed the roof of the house in order to receive a miracle of healing. Basically, the paralyzed man was committed to trusting in Jesus’ ability to heal him of his paralysis. It wasn’t enough for the paralyzed man to merely come to Jesus as he was, but he knew that at some point when he came into contact with Jesus, that he would be changed from his original condition.
Essentially, the concept of ‘Come as you are’ in modern times has stopped at the part of coming as you are. The next part of the equation is to be changed. It is often that the notion of ‘Coming as you are’ means that we come to Jesus as we are and that is the end of the story. However, this scripture shows us that transformation comes at the point of contact with Christ. Jesus Christ did not die for you and I to remain in our sin. He died on the cross and rose again so that we could be set free from the power of sin. Some even use the argument that it takes time for God to deliver us from our struggles or addictions. What we see in Mark chapter 2 is that deliverance was swift because of the paralyzed man’s faith and Christ’s intervention. This is not to say that you and I will never be tempted or we will never battle against sinful desires. However, the goal should be to let go of every sin that tries to weigh us down.
2. When you truly come to Christ your life is forever changed – It is a sad story to see many who claim Christianity and yet their lives are similar if not the same as those who are of the world. The Bible makes it clear in Matthew 5 verse 13 that we who are in Christ are the ‘Salt of the Earth.’ This means that our lives must be sanctified or separated for God’s use. It also means that who we are must be the complete antithesis of those who are living in ungodliness. There are many examples of those who have confessed that Jesus is Lord, but the true transformation has not taken place in their heart.
To accept Christ isn’t to merely confess your sins but it involves believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and that you need saving from your sin. Then the next step is to actively pursue the things of God which means seeking God’s presence, studying His word, and surrounding yourself with other believers. When you and I truly encounter God in His Holy presence, sin cannot remain. The paralyzed man was forever changed because he had the faith to believe that Jesus could transform his condition. Verse 5 of Mark chapter 2 uses the words, “Seeing their faith.” which meant that the paralyzed man and his friends believed in their hearts that Jesus could transform. In the end, it meant a life that was changed, and a greater testimony of the things that Jesus could and would do during His life of ministry.
If you really look at what it means to ‘Come as you are’ it means bringing all of your sin and your very life to be surrendered unto Christ. Much of what many think as ‘Coming as you are’ is maintaining a life that isn’t changed but instead it resembles the very things that God wants to deliver us from. Instead, you and I must be willing to release all of our burdens and all of our sins before Him.
Coming to Christ involves ‘Coming as you are’ but it doesn’t involve staying in the same condition. Otherwise, what does this gift of salvation mean? Do you know Jesus Christ in the pardon of your sins? If not, then you have an opportunity to come to Jesus in your sin. However, you must believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross and that He is Lord. Then once you confess your sins to Him and truly believe that He is Lord, the journey continues with a daily renewal through the Holy Spirit. You and I can come as we are, but we should not remain the same after encountering the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.