Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Just The Way I Am?"

Recently, we had a big concert in Fredericton. It was an outdoor affair involving seven bands, including Zoegirl and Big Daddy Weave. Between 2000 - 3000 people came out for the occasion. The weather was perfect - sunny and bright - and everyone seemed to have a blast.

My wife and I came late to the event (she's a nurse and works 12-hour shifts), and we caught the last two bands. We were present for the whole set by Big Daddy Weave. Now, these guys are great musicians, have a very engaging and charismatic stage presence, and know how to get the crowd into the act.

One of the songs, however, made me think. It was titled, "Just The Way I Am."

Here are the lyrics (courtesy www.lyricsmania.com)

Unbelievable, I’m blown away it’s true
By the matchless love that I’ve found in You
Undeniable, the change in me
I’ve never felt so free

It makes me want to dance
You make me want to dance
When I think about how

(chorus) You love me, You love me
You love me just the way I am
You love me, You love me
You love me just the way,
Just the way I am

Ever patiently accepting me
You love in spite of everything I do
But oh so faithfully
You’re committed to the process that makes me like You
And I feel like I can dance
Oh You make me want to dance
When I think about how

Not when I’m good enough
Not when I clean my act up
Not when I cross that line the thousandth time
And become a better man
Your grace is more than enough
To cover all my sins You washed them away
So right here today
You love me just the way I am

Now, the song is about God's love for us, and how His love is unaffected by how filthy we are in our sins. They make this clear in the line, "in spite of everything I do..." and speak of God's process of SANCTIFICATION (big theological word!!) in the line, "But oh so faithfully/You’re committed to the process that makes me like You..."

It got me thinking, though, how much I hear in different Christian circles, or read in different Christian publications, the phrase, "God loves you just the way you are." And I wonder: is this perhaps the best thing to be saying to an unbeliever?

Now, there is no doubt that God loves everyone. And there can be no doubt that His love for us as human beings, as His image-bearers, is unaffected by our sinfulness.

But think about this for a moment...

Let's say you tell someone - say a girlfriend, or husband, or child, "I love you - just the way you are!"

What are you actually saying?

Isn't it more often along the lines of, "I love everything about you?" or, "I wouldn't change anything about you?"

I could be wrong, but this seems to me to be the usual meaning of "loving someone just the way they are." That's the way the average English-speaking unbeliever will probably understand that phrase. And that, I believe, is the wrong thing to say to an unbeliever.

See, God loves the person, but He definitely does NOT love "the way they are." All people are sinners; unbelievers, especially, are corrupted and enslaved with a sinful nature that is abhorrent to God. This nature renders them dead to the things of God, in total rebellion against Him. And a holy God cannot love a person "just the way they are," if that's they way they are!

No, God loves His people much He's willing to change the way they are! He loves people in SPITE of the way they are, NOT "just the way you are." Big Daddy Weave's song, in the second verse, recognizes this fact, but many Christians aren't that careful in the way they describe God's love.

And the consequences are serious. The Gospel isn't a self-help program that aims to help a person accept himself - it confronts the sinner with their sinfulness! It convicts! The Gospel should bring repentance, and loathing of one's sinful nature! And as evangelists, the LAST thing we want to communicate to a lost sinner is that God's happy with them "as they are," in the condition they are in. Such "assurance," I fear, downplays the utter necessity and urgency of repentance. One cannot come to Christ unless they recognize their own sinfulness, and that they are UNACCEPTABLE "the way they are!."

The true love of Christ is this: that He loved His sheep so much that He died to FREE them from being "just the way they are."

Just a thought. But remember that the next time you share the Gospel.


Post a Comment

<< Home