Thursday, December 24, 2015
As we were driving around town yesterday on a busier than normal day, I kept thinking of one of the most recognizable Christian hymns of the past century, “Just As I Am.” This hymn is widely known because, for as long as I can remember, it has been the one which has been exclusively played by the Billy Graham crusades as their altar call. I’m sure many of you who have seen these evangelistic campaigns remember hearing this familiar melody as people from all sections of the stadium make their way down to foot of the stage to publicly proclaim their decision to accept Christ as their Savior.
As far as the hymn is concerned, it’s message is best understood when one knows what prompted it’s author, Charlotte Elliot, to write the lyrics in 1834. I trust you will look up it’s lyrics as well as hear it’s melody at your first opportunity. You shouldn’t have any trouble at all finding both lyrics and melody on the internet. Ms. Elliot was brought up in a Christian home, her grandfather being a minister. Despite the fact that “church” was practically all the life her entire family knew, she struggled with doubt for many years concerning her standing with God. One day, a well known preacher came to visit her when she was ill. The preacher, sensing her lack of assurance regarding her salvation, asked her if she had peace with God. She initially resented the question, but later called on the minister to apologize. She explained that she had not committed her life to Christ because she first wanted to “clean herself up.” For many years, all the ministers she had consulted would tell her to pray more, to study the Bible more, to perform more noble deeds, or to resolve to do better. None of this advice gave her any relief so when she asked this last preacher what advice he could give her, he told her, “Go to God just as you are.” This was the gospel truth she needed to hear: No human can clean himself or herself well enough to satisfy God’s requirement. Jesus, on the other hand, provided all the cleansing anybody will ever need by way of the precious blood he shed on the cross of Calvary to win our salvation.
Nevertheless, the real reason this hymn came to my heart and mind yesterday was because I was thinking about the apparent difficulty most of us have in accepting some people in our lives “just as they are.” It is so easy to forget that God accepts us as we are. And I’m not talking about the day Jesus saved us, I’m talking about now. Without a doubt, God wants us to do better, but yet He will always love us “just as we are.” May the Lord always remind us that we can’t change others, only He can. And may He help us to love and accept others “just as they are.
Memory verse for the week: (Jude 1:21) “Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
PS: I wish you all a blessed and Merry Christmas and hope you get the opportunity to spend some quality time with your friends and loved ones. I plan to visit with you again on Friday.