JUST AS I AM
T. PIERCE BROWN
I do not know how many hundreds of time we have sung “Just As I Am” as an invitation song. Very close to the same idea is another song, “Only come as you are and believe on His name. Jesus will give you rest.” When I heard Dan Rather’s program about the Christian right with the homosexual church pastor saying that God loves all of us and takes us just as we are, without any special mention of what is involved in that, except that he said that God has special love for homosexuals, I decided to enlarge on the subject of God taking us just as we are from a Biblical perspective.
It never entered my mind, nor the minds of most Christians, that anyone would ever teach or preach in such a fashion that when we sing, “Christ receiveth sinful men” that it remotely suggested that Christ receiveth sinful men who continue in sin. Nor would most of us ever have dreamed of anyone who would suggest that God taking a person as he is implies or suggests that because God takes him as a sinner, He leaves him that way.
That was almost the idea that caused Paul to apparently recoil in horror as he said, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” If we ever use the expression, “God takes a person as he is” we should be careful that we explain (though most of us can scarcely conceive that we would ever need to explain) that “as he is” means that he is a penitent believer who is willing to now let Christ be the Lord of his life. He does not have to do righteous deeds and prove himself to have been reformed and strong enough to resist all temptations of the Devil. But he does have to repent of his sin, whether it is homosexual practices, adulterous ones, or any other.
There are those who are so concerned about the expression, “Only come as you are and believe on his name. Jesus will give you rest,” that they have revised the song to say, “Obey Jesus your lord, heed his every command.” We could probably find as much fault with misunderstandings about that as we can with the way the song was originally written. When I sing “Only come as you are and believe on his name” it never entered my mind that anyone would assume that any drunken wretch or adulterous rascal could come, continuing to be as they are, and that at the point of faith they would be saved. “Believe on his name” has always with me included trusting in and surrendering to his authority, which involved obeying his commands. However, the way some are now teaching (and sadly enough they are not all in a homosexual church), one may need to be more careful in calling attention to phrases that may be wrongly applied.
It is very similar to what may occur to us as we think of singing in a Christmas carol, “Don we now our gay apparel.” Some of us may now try to edit that song in some fashion, but it is hoped that most of us will be able to sing it without the necessity of some long-winded explanation or article. Just be careful!