fritillary“What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and ‘sinners’?” Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” [Luke 5:30-32 (MSG)]

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received [2 Peter 1:3 (MSG)]

My in-laws were great ones for giving theme parties and once gave a “Backwards Party.” Guests wore their clothes backwards, entered through the back door, walked backwards through the house to the living room, and ate dessert before dinner. At another get-together, attendees came dressed as children, received jump ropes and jacks, and played games like “Mother May I?” and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.” My introduction to such parties was when they turned their house into a 1920’s speakeasy. The women dressed as flappers, the men wore spats and we all danced the Charleston. Another party had the theme, “Come as You Wish You Had Been.” My mother-in-law, in shorts with a whistle around her neck, dressed as the PE teacher she’s dreamed of becoming and her husband dressed as the train conductor he’d once aspired to be. Others dressed as ballerinas, weight lifters, princesses, cowboys or baseball players.

The one theme party they never hosted was a “Come as You Are” party. No one wants to come as they are! If we can’t be someone else entirely, at least we want to be a better version of ourselves! If invited to such a party, I would cheat. I know I’d stop to wash, put on make-up, comb my hair and spritz on perfume. Most likely, I’d change into an outfit that not only would make me look better but also would suggest that my life is far more exciting than it really is. Yet, “Come as you are!” is exactly how God invites us to come to Him.

We don’t have to be neat, clean or accomplished nor do we have to repair what’s broken in our lives to accept Jesus’ invitation. The woman at the well and the thief on the cross didn’t pretend to be anything but the sinners they were. The blind, lame, adulterous, afflicted, possessed, soiled and corrupt—they all came to Jesus just as they were, neither as they once had been nor as they wished they could have become. It’s hard to believe that our perfect God could love and accept us, as imperfect and flawed as we are, but He does. Although we can come to Him as we are, make no mistake about it, we won’t remain that way. We must shed the old us and put on the new just as Saul, the self-righteous Pharisee, did when he became Paul, the Apostle. When we accept Jesus’ invitation to come as we are, He will make of us what we should be.

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! [2 Corinthians 5:17 (MSG)]

You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it [Colossians 3:9-10 (MSG)]

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