Part two: Come as you are, but don’t leave as you came.
I promised a follow-up post yesterday to my Tuesday post, but work and second work got the best of me yesterday. No excuses, I fail, but I figured I would offer a bit of explanation. In lieu of this unfortunate failure on my part, today, you are in for a rare treat!
DOUBLE POST DAY!
If you missed part one of this installment, do me a favor. Go back and read it, so I don’t sound like a blithering idiot as I continue my discourse on what God is showing me through the statement which is the title of this post. Originally the comment appeared on a church sign that I happened to pass several days ago.
A quick recap…
*Insert wavy flashback lines*
I. Hate. Church. Sign. Messages.
Hate them. I think they are a blemish on the image of the church, but that really isn’t the point today, so…
God has once again decided to reveal himself to me in something for which I have a great disdain. This is not an uncommon occurence in my life. In fact, God uses these abhorrent instances quite often to show me how much I generally fail. This specific event was really no different.
Several days ago, I saw a message on a church sign that really caught my attention and has taken hold of my thought process since I read it. Usually, information comes into my brain, I process it, and discard the waste after removing and applying the meaningful pieces from the information presented. This one, however, has captured me a bit more than I expected. The statement was:
“Come as you are, but don’t leave as you came.”
*Insert wavy “coming out of the flashback” lines*
I discussed what the first part of that statement meant to me a couple days ago. I am not going to insult your intelligence. Feel free to read what I posted for the specifics. The first part of this statement affected me, but I really feel as that message is for those who have yet to find Christ or have turned their backs from his love. The second part of the statement, “but don’t leave as you came”, has interesting connotations for everyone, but, specifically, for the believer.
I started to think to myself, “Self, how many times have you graced the doors of the church and walked away wholly unaffected? How many events have you attended where the Holy Spirit has been at work where you have failed to connect with the Creator?” These instances in time began to play through my mind like an old black and white movie where I saw myself walking away from encounter after encounter with God completely the same as I entered. Intellectually, I know that it is not possible to walk away from a face-to-face with God and stay the same. You are either pulled closer or pushed further away. So how does one walk away unchanged?
God is the same today, yesterday, and will not change for eternity; therefore, he can’t be the problem. That leaves one culprit. The problem is me. The problem is you. The reason that these encounters with God don’t change us is because we get in the way. Our sin and flesh stop God from moving like he desires to in our lives. This is why Jesus calls us to deny our desires that get in the way of our relationship with Him.
The simple truth about humanity is that we are not good. The only good that exists in me is God in me. In my flesh, I am a broken lost soul-searching for meaning in a world where meaning is absent. This is why God changes us completely when we find him, so we can see the reason behind our creation.
It is so easy for us to exalt ourselves above God. Many times, we as “good Christians” appear to be walking in the light of God, but we are actually so far outside of the realm of what God wants for us that it makes Him want to upchuck. That’s right, our disobedience literally nauseates God. If that isn’t deflating, then I don’t know what catastrophe it might take to remove the wind from your sails.
It all boils down to selfishness and the casual attitude with which we approach sin. We see sin as a temporary problem for which we can just ask forgiveness. We forget that God is our Holy refiner desiring to make us more like him everyday. The hindrance to this process is the fact that we would have to give up things that we think make us happy in order to reconcile ourselves to his image. It is like two-year-old holding on to a leaf of poison ivy because he or she thinks that it is pretty, throwing a fit when the loving parent attempts to remove the leaf that is going to cause more suffering in the end.
It doesn’t make sense for us to throw a fit, but we do it anyway. It just shows how bratty we are in our relationship with God. On Earth, any parent worth their salt would do whatever it took to remove the leaf from the child’s hand, but that is what makes God entirely unique from us. He allows us to make choices. He tells us that the leaf is bad, but gives us the freedom to keep the leaf regardless of consequences. Then, when we are suffering from the rash that the leaf gave us, we curse God for allowing us to suffer. THAT IS REALLY STUPID, but we do it anyway.
The simple truth is that God desires us to look more and more like him every day and the only detractor from that is us. The time has arrived for the church to take a stand on the truth of the gospel and live out our faith every day in every instance. We will not recognize the vision that God has for us as a Church body until we are able to shove off the chains that bind us. The latch was unlocked when Christ died on the cross. All you have to do is shrug your shoulders and let the binding fall, step forward and let God take over.
When this happens, we will see revival break out because the world is looking for something real. They are looking for you to live out what you say you believe. I will leave you with one final thought that initiated the process of change that I feel taking over.
“Come as you are, but don’t leave as you came.”
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