Sunday, February 1, 2015

Just As I Am

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Just As I Am
By Charlotte Elliot

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches, healing of the mind,
yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Charlotte Elliot wrote this song about how to find salvation through Christ. It has been used by many as the call to the altar at the close of services or what we in the Church of Christ call an invitational, as it brings a quiet simple message of sin, forgiveness, and salvation to all that turn from sin and trust in Jesus.  I have fond memories of this song from Sunday services at my church growing up.  In fact, when I served as the song leader, this was one of my favorite invitationals.  It truly is a classic hymn, and one that I hope never goes away from church services.

The story behind this hymn is an interesting one.  Charlotte Elliott struggled most of her life with sin and how to be forgiven from sin.  She would talk to religious leaders and pastors, and many would counsel her to pray more, study the Bible more, do more noble deeds, and resolve to “do better.”  This advice, however, did not resolve the struggle with sin in her life.  She also struggled with health issues.  Her physical disability had hardened her heart to the point where she was quoted as saying “If God loved me, He would not have treated me this way.”

One evening, a Swiss minister, Dr. Cesar Malan, came and visited Ms. Elliott and her family.  During the visit, Ms. Elliott lost her temper, and so embarrassed her family to the point that they left the room and left her alone with Dr. Malan.  Dr. Malan asked her some poignant questions about the hate and anger she had in her heart.  He told her that she had become sour, bitter, and resentful.   Ms. Elliott asked him what his “cure” was for this kind of bitterness.  He told her the cure was the faith that she was trying so hard to despise.  After a long conversation, she finally reached her wit’s end, and asked him “If I wanted to become a Christian…what would I do?”  Dr. Malan wisely responded, “You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”  She responded “I would come to God just as I am?  Is that right?”   Her conversion was a powerful one, and from this encounter with Dr. Malan and with Christ, she was inspired to write the words of this song.  She lived to be 82 years old and eventually wrote over 150 hymns.

It's tough to enjoy life when you don't like yourself. People who haven't learned to accept and get along with themselves tend to have more difficulty accepting and getting along with others. Yet, the Bible repeatedly tells us to "love your neighbor as yourself." I personally spent years having a hard time getting along with people, until I finally realized through the Word of God how my difficulty with other people was actually "rooted" in my difficulties with myself. 

The Bible says a good tree will bear good fruit, and a rotten tree will bear rotten fruit. Likewise, the "fruit" of our lives comes from the "root" within us. If you're rooted in shame, guilt, inferiority, rejection, lack of love and acceptance, etc., the fruit of your relationships will suffer. However, once you have a revelation of God's unconditional love for you and begin to accept yourself and others, eventually these new roots will produce good fruit, and your relationships will thrive. 


silvereagle said...

The congregation would sign this song until one lost soul would come down the aisle and then the music would stop...Sometimes we would repeat the many verses for what seemed an endless time.

But, in spite of that, the words are true and I enjoy hearing it still today...

Jay M. said...

I love this hymn. I've responded to it several times in my life as I have moved from church to church.

I think more profound is this:
"People who haven't learned to accept and get along with themselves tend to have more difficulty accepting and getting along with others." I have to wonder how unhappy with themselves all of the haters out there are. The more rabidly anti-gay, the less happy they must be with themselves. How sad.

Peace <3

GK said...

A HUGE AMEN to this article AND to what Jay M. said above. So true. Sad, but true indeed. Today was a wonder-filled article by the way. Thank you & God bless you,,, you have NO IDEA how MUCH your blog means to me,,,,and a GA-Zillion others!