Just As I Am
Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me.
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee
O Lamb of God, I come. (Charlotte Elliot)
I have long thought that “Just as I am” is a beautiful, inspiring hymn. While I don’t know that it was initially written to be an “invitation song,” as we call it, it has become one of the best known for that. My dad, Forrest D. Moyer, used to tell me that back when meetings were much more active and well attended (tent meetings, two week meetings, etc.), he had more responses to that song than any other. It does tend to touch the emotions in a powerful way when someone has first been touched by Scripture to reflect upon his or her relationship with God. But this is not really about the hymn, per se.
“Just as I am” is not saying that we come to God without needing to repent or that somehow we are good enough to merit what He gives. As the hymn notes, we come to Him “to rid my soul of one dark blot,” and that when we come, God will “welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.” This is God’s promise. Scripture is clear on the need for repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19). What the idea does do, however, is point to the fact that God wants us to come to him as we are — sick, hurting, broken, and in need of His healing. We cannot just fix ourselves first, then try to come to Him as if we are capable of that. There are a couple things I think about with this:
1. I have talked with people who have thought that they have to perfect their lives before they were worthy to come to the Lord. This is backwards. If you are going to wait until you have somehow made yourself worthy, you’ll never come to Him. God doesn’t say, “Only the worthy may come.” He tells all to come, and He will forgive and heal. Then our manner of life can reflect walking worthy of the calling (Eph 4:1).
If you think you are not good enough to come to the Lord, you are the very one who needs to come to the Lord now. The truth is that you are not good enough. Nor am I. That’s the point of God’s grace. Come just as you are and you will be changed into a new creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).
2. If you think that you aren’t good enough to begin with, you might have corollary feelings that God just doesn’t want you. After all, how can God want someone who has been impure? How can God love the unlovable? How can God desire to have in His fellowship any who has been evil, immoral, and so stained by the world? What hope can I possibly have for God to want to do anything with me?
Let’s clear this up now: God wants you! He wants you if you have been stained, immoral, and evil. He wants you when you are broken and sick. He wants you when you have hit bottom and have nowhere else to turn. He wants the drug addict, the alcoholic, and the sexually immoral. Come to Him just as you are in your broken state…
And you will be changed: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11).
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
Think of the sinful woman in Luke 7:36ff. Think of the woman at the well (John 4). Think about the fact that the Lord, against the convention of the Pharisees, at with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 9:10-13).
Let us, then, admit that we aren’t good enough. We do not waltz up to God’s banquet table without an invitation. We are invited. We might first be found on the by-ways, but we are yet invited.
Let us admit, then, that that we are weak, hurting, sick, and in need of the Great Physician. There is no one whom He cannot heal, none whom He cannot re-create, none whom He cannot bless. The only thing left to get rid of, the one thing that keeps us from coming to Him, is our pride. Give that to Him, too, and He will give grace to the humble.
There may be many conflicts, doubts, fears within and without. Yet we can rely upon the promises of God and entrust our souls to Him who loved us and died for our sins.
O Lamb of God, I come!