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Just As I Am

Ryan Joy


August 7, 2022

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“Jesus answered, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance'” (Luke 5:31-32).

As an invalid, Charlotte Elliott felt discouraged and full of doubt. She wondered if she had anything to contribute. And she went to an evangelist and said, “What can I bring to God?” And he said, “All you need to bring is yourself.” Those words changed her thinking about her life, purpose, and who she was before God. She wrote these words, now translated into hundreds of languages and published in over 1600 hymnals:

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bids me come to Thee,
Oh, Lamb of God, I come

This lesson has three simple points: 1) Just As I Am, 2) O Lamb of God, and 3) I Come. When we come to the Lord, we all show up wherever we are with the things we carry — our baggage, our attitudes, habits, relationships — all the stuff of our lives. I brought a metaphorical backpack filled with good and bad desires and a past full of stories, some of which I was ashamed of. I came believing in Jesus, dying to myself, and rising from baptism without any more sin. But you know what followed me home? Some of those things that were in my backpack! Because I was a new man, but I was also the same guy as two minutes before. Before God, everything changed — I had no more guilt! I was a child of God! And yet, I had the same relationships and some of the same ways of thinking.

But I started a journey that day with Jesus, living honestly before him so that he could continue to work in me, help me, and change me as I sought him because we find what we seek. What are you pursuing? Make sure you’re seeking the right thing! If you want to change what you’re seeing, change what you’re seeking! I wish someone had told me years ago that you eventually start to find what you seek. If you hunger and thirst after righteousness, you’ll be satisfied.

Trying to get it together before coming to the Lord is like lighting a flashlight without a battery!

3 Ways to Avoid Coming to Christ

1. Put It Off. A while back, to lighten my wife’s load, I suggested, “What if we hired a cleaning service to come in and clean the whole house?” But here’s the problem: before we hire a cleaning service, she wants to do a deep cleaning herself! I don’t want them to see any mess. We need to pick up the clutter, then do a deep clean, and once it’s all clean, someone can come in and clean it.

Sometimes, we approach coming to Christ that way! More than once, I’ve studied with someone who said, “Once I get my life right, I’ll come to Christ.” That’s not how it works! Trying to get it together before coming to the Lord is like lighting a flashlight without a battery! You have to trust and obey the Lord, and then you’ll find grace, help, the ability to call on him in prayer, his church’s support, and his presence with you in the battle!

2. Protect Yourself. I come from a long line of men who hate going to doctors. I’ve had uncles who were lifetime smokers, yet even with labored breathing and constant coughing, they’d say, “Ah, I don’t need a doctor.” And when dragged to the doctor, they might say, “Nothing’s wrong, doc!” (Cough! Cough!) Because doctors tell you to change and get healthy!

You can kill yourself trying to protect yourself! People do that with their spiritual lives all the time! The Great Physician (Mark 2:17) can’t heal you if you don’t let them. Don’t deny you have a problem.

3. Pretend. You always hear that there’s no guilty person in prison. Do they think that they weren’t the ones stealing the car? No, but they’re pretending because it’s easier to rationalize the injustice of the sentence than to accept that you were wrong. And we can do that, too.

We can do that as a church. Pretend we all have it together as if we can put on our Sunday best and convince each other we’re not flawed, broken people with temptations, struggles, and doubts. I suspect we all have challenging times in our marriages, demanding days in our walk with Christ, and times we turn to the Lord and wonder how he could take us back. We have to own who we are.

Before we come to Christ, we can pretend we’re just fine. “I’m pretty good! I don’t need anything.” Yes, you do! And you won’t find your way until you face it. You may have heard someone say admitting a problem is the first step.

One of our members wrote a song called “Enough for My God,” and it says, “Still I walked a shameful fraud.” Have you ever heard of “Imposter Syndrome”? People become so afraid that someone will discover they’re not as intelligent, skilled, and successful as they’re projecting that they become paranoid. They feel they don’t belong in their own lives. They feel like fakes!

Jesus said, “Their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them” (Matt. 13:15).

Just As I Am

It’s called a triptych, when artists paint three separate pictures to form one larger than the sum of their parts. If you look at just one painting, you don’t get the whole picture; you need all three together. Luke stacks three stories together, lining them up next to each other like a triptych.

First, Jesus heals a leper — someone disgraced, diseased, and disassociated from the rest of his community (Luke 5:12-16). Then, before mending a lame man, he forgives him of his sins, helping us to see the greater need we all have for healing (Luke 5:17-28). Finally, he calls Levi, the tax collector, to follow him, completing the trio of outcasts and bringing us full circle from fixing a disease to bringing true restoration and wellness (Luke 5:27-30). These stories — the leper, the lame man, and Levi — move us from physical healing to a grand declaration about the spiritual healing we need at the end of the passage (Luke 5:31-32). There, we learn who qualifies for Christ’s salvation:

Jesus answered, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance’” (Luke 5:31-32).

If you need Jesus (which you do!), you qualify for his rescue! He calls YOU to repent so he can heal you. A recent update on Charlotte Elliot’s classic hymn adds a new chorus.

I come broken to be mended;
I come empty to be filled.
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

It’s a painful but ultimately healing truth to meditate upon and accept. We come to Christ broken and wounded (Jer. 31:12-13; Ps. 51:17). We come guilty, desperate, and empty (Jer. 30:14-15; Luke 5:27-32; 15:14-16). But praise God, that’s not the end of a Christian’s story.

As the song says, we come broken to be mended, not to wallow in brokenness.

O Lamb of God

Another classic hymn asks, “What can wash away my sins?” The first word of the hymn’s answer is “Nothing.” What a tragedy if we ended the chorus that way! Thankfully, that’s not the whole answer. Instead, we sing: “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Nothing else will do the job. But the sacrificial death of God’s perfect lamb, Jesus Christ, can cleanse and heal us (John 1:29).

Jesus invites us to come just as we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. As the song says, we come broken to be mended, not to wallow in brokenness. Find healing and wholeness in Him (Luke 5:12-26; Jer. 30:17,9; Isa. 53:5). He can rescue and fill you (Luke 5:27-32). He will pardon and welcome you (Luke 15:20-24)!

I Come

But none of that can happen until we come to him. Come believing you bids you to come and that he’s the One who heals. Come to Christ, trusting that his sacrifice is enough.

Come Repenting (Luke 5:32). We come as we are to become as He is. And come confessing Him (Matt. 10:34-35). Come to the Lord dying to yourself, buried in water, and rising in Him (Rom. 6:1-6).

Come and surrender all to Him daily (James 4:8-9). He will take you as you are, whoever and whatever you are, and you will be changed — day by day — as you walk with him.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot

Don’t wait. Come to Christ today.

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