Come as you are!
I began to write yesterday on a subject that has weaved through out this entire journey and I find myself conflicted with how to continue or even if it will matter if I do. I read a Psalm of David this morning that showed the desire of his heart was to Know God more than anything. Throughout Psalms David cries out to God in every situation; he asks God to protect him, comfort him, guide and teach him, and David always returns to worship. There is a story in the Old Testament that talks about David dancing naked down the street giving God all praise for Israel’s victory. I find that this story is passed over quickly by many pastors I’m sure because it would be very inappropriate to dance around the church naked but I think of this story as a beautiful picture of worship. David did not put on his finest robes and his biggest crown, there was no ceremony or long winded speeches just a man with nothing to offer giving God all the glory for his victory. It was an outward sign of an inward heart and the most powerful man of the time showed his vulnerability and humbleness before God and his people. How can sackcloth and ashes be a sign of repentance and suites and ties and dresses a sign of holiness? The truth is simply that each and every one of us stands before God naked and vulnerable no matter if we choose to acknowledge it or not. The suicide rate in this country has doubled in the last 10 years, the murder rate is astronomical, and I don’t even understand school shootings but yesterday for the umpteenth time I was confronted with “come as you are and leave as you were” what the hell does that mean? In Galatians 5 Paul writes a letter to the church he started and he is addressing this very thing. The believers had added rules to live by that would show their spirituality but it actually put them in bondage.
1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.11But if I, brothers, b still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.14For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another
This Galatian church was not being persecuted and it was not growing because they went from faith in Christ to religion and began making work for themselves so they could judge each other’s holiness. This is the most connected society and yet we are the loneliest people. The religion of the American church will not reach the next generation if it continues to offer behavior modification as a means to success and back biting judgement as sacrificial holiness. Please don’t misunderstand me I am begging God to revive us and teach us how to reach the lost around us and He is pounding me with this. I came to Jesus because at the end of me all I wanted was to be loved and He gave it unconditionally and even though I have kicked and screamed about the rules and judgement somewhere between meeting Christ and here I settled for less. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” one step to the left or to the right makes a huge difference in the destination miles down the road. Today God has shown me just a piece of my own heart and unlike David I stand naked and ashamed because I have settled for judgmental sacrifice in place of worship through obedience.