Around seven last Sunday morning, nineteen-year-old Jenny was on her way home from a party in her community when she heard the praise & worship team of a nearby church singing,
“That's what this altar is for
You don't have to carry
Those burdens anymore
There's light in the darkness
There's a love that's true
And Jesus is waiting
He is waiting there for you
Go quickly now
Before they close the door
That's what this altar is for.”
Before she knew it, she was sitting on a rock, by the side of the road, with tears streaming uncontrollably down her face, unable to explain what the lyrics of the song was doing to her in a full white strapless and knee length skirt. Five minutes passed and she decided to give in to her instinct and make her way through the doors of church after weeks of disobeying.
She silently said good morning and was making her way to a corner front row seat when she was approached by an usher yelling directly at her, “Get out! You are not welcomed here!” Thankfully the pastor who was close by, saw the ordeal and rushed to see what was happening, he offered her to stay after her shaking explanation.
May I say, writing articles pulls me into the word? Today, I want to share my views on a topic I believe many in the church often speak about, yet some shy away from another aspect of the conversation which I believe is where the confusion comes around. Before I get into the meat of the matter, I want to point out that I respect church rules and I am in no way bashing any church or denomination.
I do not know about other regions, but in my neck of the woods, based on my observation and experience of being on this Christian walk and exploring different denominations via reading and attending. Many of these churches are very much religious for various reasons because of their foundations.
By religious I mean; they do not wear outfits of a certain length, hair must be natural and covered with a hat or else they cannot enter the building and if they do there is a seat most times at the back picked for them….
‘Come as you are’
a phrase church people use every so often to get the unsaved to join their church audience Sunday to Sunday or Saturday to Saturday. Honestly, in my view, they forget all about this phrase when somebody joins.
Many will argue that that phrase does not necessarily refer to clothes, rather, bringing your troubles to the altar. While I do agree, look at it from that standpoint as well. Truth be told, many young people hear the phrase being used so loosely without it being properly explained as a result they come any way they choose. Honestly speaking you cannot wrong them for it.
To get a proper understanding of what this phrase means, I reached out to a few youths asking; ‘what does this phrase mean to you?’
One respondent shared that though the bible says come as you are, it did not specifically say “Come as you are!” with references found in the book of Matthew and Isaiah.
1. “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew chapter 11 verse 28, KJV). As well as,
2. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be wool.” (Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18).
On the other hand, my other respondents were all in agreement that it means exactly what it says, whether broken, hurt, flawed, wicked, selfish or rejected, you are welcomed!
Let me shift the focus just a bit from my online research and go back to something I mentioned earlier; putting persons on a back bench, because they do not adhere to the church’s way of attire… If people do so respectfully with an explanation as to why, I personally do not have a problem! However, I differ.
Like Jenny in the scenario above, many unsaved find themselves in this situation, convicted in a party, then finding themselves in church still dressed in party attire. They are then scorned by persons in the church because they do not have on a long dress and hat, told they are not welcomed by God.
Remember, there is no condemnation in Christ.
State of the heart
Upon reflection and feedback I can conclude that coming to God as you are does have to deal with attire to an extent, however he is more concerned about you coming to him with a heart ready and open to serve him so that he can pour into you, and by extension, change your life.
So, before you yell at another Jenny who you happen to come across; here is some advice:
1. Remember the golden rule found in Matthew regarding treating people equally; we are the only Jesus some people will see
2. We all were there at some point, no one is perfect, we all fall and come short.
3. Remember what God said to Samuel in 1 Samuel chapter 16 verse 7
Richelle Henry is a blogger and writer, residing in beautiful Jamaica and through her experiences living with Cerebral Palsy has been using her gift of writing to encourage and inspire others as well as to advocate for persons with disabilities. Visit blog at https://richellethenry.wordpress.com/