What does it mean when Christians say “Come as you are?” Many of the unbelievers have the wrong notion thinking that they have to change their habits and lifestyle etc. before they can come to Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness. They think, well I am an alcoholic or a drug user, I am angry or I have too many issues. They think that Jesus will not receive them in their current condition and that they need to clean up their act before asking Jesus for help and forgiveness. Jesus does not see it that way. He had dinner with sinners. He sought out the sinners, just look at the disciples, they were sinners just like everybody else. He chose them in their current sinful condition.
Look at the woman who was caught in the act of adultery or the Samaritan woman at the well who had 5 husbands and was living now with a her boyfriend. He did not condemn them, He ministered and reached out to them in their current sinful condition. There are many more examples of Jesus reaching out to the lost, something the religious leaders of the time did not. The religious leaders looked on the outside and not at the heart. They judged purely on appearance, and instead of welcoming them, they cast them out.
Many Churches today cast out people simply by their appearance which is a shame and not very “Christ-like”. In the late 60’s and early 70’s many of the Hippies came to faith in Christ and they came to a little country church in Santa Ana Ca. They were long-haired “dirty looking” people and not what some might expect coming to church on a Sunday morning. It was small church, and the Pastor was Chuck Smith. The small congregation at the time was upset with Pastor Chuck because they had just installed new carpeting and these long-haired hippies were messing up the carpet. Pastor Chuck assured the complaining members of the Church that he would take care of it. They sensed victory and thought that Pastor Chuck Smith would just cast them out.
Little did they know, when they saw Pastor Chuck ripping out the carpet and welcomed the hippies with open arms. They came by the thousands and were called “Jesus people” or “Jesus Freaks”. The church known as Calvary Chapel has grown into a fellowship of over 2000 churches world-wide. Because of one man who did not look upon the outside, many of these broken people who had believed the lie that peace and happiness can be found in sex, drugs and Rock’n Roll, found true peace, happiness and salvation in Jesus Christ. He transformed a generation. Jesus never told anybody, “clean up your act and then come back to me”, He received them just as the were. Jesus is the One that transforms lives, He changes people. There are millions of testimonies around the world of transformed lives. Drug addicts, alcoholics, broken people, you name it, they all have a testimony and story to tell about how Jesus changed them when they surrendered their lives to Him.
That’s what we need to remember when witnessing to unbelievers, no matter what their condition is, no matter what they have done, no matter how grave the sin, Jesus wants to forgive them and save them from a life of sin that leads into destruction and eternal damnation. Jesus wants them to “Come as they are”.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Mat 11:28-30