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Just As I Am

May 30, 2016

I struggle with the desire to impress people. I want to be the great musician, the great theologian, the great scholar. I want to say the thing that will unify the Church. I want a platform that will enable me to reach millions of people all around the globe. And so on.

Fundamentally, this is also a desire to impress God. I want God to need me; I want to be vital to his operation. That may sound good and holy, but it’s a denial of who he is and who I am. God has no needs of any kind. He is totally self-sufficient, and it is only by grace that he allows any of us to take even the slightest role of participation in his plan to redeem the world.

Who am I? I am certainly no great scholar, and I have no global platform. But even if I were the greatest Christian writer and speaker of all time, I am still a man. God does not need me; I need him. I need the cross and the empty tomb. I need the blood of Jesus.

A woman named Charlotte Elliott wrote a hymn that perfectly captures the simplicity of this truth:

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! I come!

I bring nothing to the table in this relationship. My skills, knowledge, and accomplishments are meaningless. All I can do is rely on the blood of Jesus and answer him when he calls to me. It is his righteousness on which I stand, for I have none on my own. Everyone needs redemption; the most devoted preacher of the gospel needs it just as much as the most hardened convict in the penal system. I cannot come to him and say, “Look at all the good I’ve done!”

If anyone in history could have done that, it was the apostle Paul. Yet he had this to say:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

If you have a successful career, a growing ministry, a “perfect” family, or even if you’re just an all-around great person, you still need the blood of Christ to stand before God.

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 cannot stand on any of my own goodness or accomplishments, I also cannot hang back because of my sin. I cannot make myself worthy; I must come to him to be made worthy. Sometimes when I have done something I know to be wrong, I am tempted to hide from God, so that I can turn things around and come to him later, when I am in a better state. But it never works.

First of all, since my righteousness comes from him, hiding from him only drives me deeper into sin. Second, hiding from God is an exercise in futility. He’s God. He knows where I am. No, the best—the only—thing to do when I realize I have sinned is to fall on the mercy of God, and to believe that the blood of Jesus covers that sin just as completely as any other.

Just as I am, though tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings within, and fears without,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

In my inner life there are three crosses on a hill. On one, there is a man who has been running from God all his life, determined to have his own way, and hateful of any suggestion of surrender. On another hangs a criminal racked with guilt and remorse, drowning in sin and knowing that his only hope lies with the one in the middle. I wonder, as the thief on the cross turned to Jesus and begged, “Remember me when you come in your kingdom,” (Luke 23:42) was he afraid? Would he not have worried that it was too late for him, that Jesus would not forgive, that his repentance would seem hollow?

If you are afraid that Jesus will not accept you, fear not:

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!

Listen to what Jesus said about this:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out. (John 6:37)

It is not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32)

The Psalms also echo this theme:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

God knows our weakness. He knows better than we do that we have no power to reconcile ourselves to him. That was the purpose for which Jesus came into the world. God does not demand that we make ourselves perfect. He only asks that we confess our poverty before him and surrender to him. Never fear that he will turn you away. He loves you.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Do you see that you are powerless to save yourself? Come to Jesus afresh today.

just as I am

The Author
Joel Stucki

Joel Stucki lives in Colorado with his wife and cat. He is a percussionist, a cheesemonger, and a history buff. He also possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the first nine seasons of The Simpsons. In his spare time, he hikes in the mountains, drinks dearly cherished cups of coffee, and holds long theological conversations via email.

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