1 Corinthians 7:17 (As You Are)

As You Are

Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.
(1 Corinthians 7:17)

Read: Nehemiah 1:1 – 3:14, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24, Psalm 31:19-24, Proverbs 21:4

Relate: Using marriage, circumcision, slavery Paul gives three different points of reference to explain his point. I want to add a fourth: missions. If we were to go back a couple hundred years and we would find missionaries workig in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and East Asia all making the same colossal mistake over and over again. Thousands of courageous and God fearing men and women gave up their lives and careers to move to a strange land. They invested their lives in a strange culture with people who spoke a strange tongue. Their obedience and sacrifice and efforts are to be recognized.

But so is their failure. With rare exceptions, these missionaries went into these strange lands and did their best to make them… not so strange. They would invest huge amounts of time and effort to establish strongholds of European (and American) culture rather than trying to learn how to adapt to the culture they had joined. They would try to teach their converts to walk and talk and dress and act European.  In their thinking, in this way they were making the local converts better Christians. Is it any wonder why many of these gifted and passionate missionaries would often go years, even decades before winning a new convert?

It is easy to sit back in pride, fold our arms and shake our heads at the mistakes these, well intentioned, godly heroes of the faith have made. It is easy to wear that smug grin and pride ourselves in the fact that we know better. We’ve moved beyond that. We don’t. We haven’t. Twice, years apart in very different situations I have seen this same mentality at work. On a Friday at youth group, we showed a very moving clip from John Q to illustrate the willingness of God to sacrifice his life for us. A young lady gave hear heart to Christ at the end of that service, but that didn’t matter to some. I was very nearly fired for showing a clip from a “secular movie” that would corrupt our kids. Even worse, that young lady came to church the next two Sunday mornings and left early both services angry. Multiple people in the church were making comments about her, within her hearing about her mohawk and nose ring. To my knowledge she has never been in a church again.

There was another young lady, in another town years later who had been coming to our youth group for a couple months. There were some deep conversations and she was open to Christianity. At least she was until she came to a Sunday morning service. There is a sweet elderly lady attending that church who is a saint and a hero with a heart of gold. She very sweetly offered to buy this young girl a hat to wear when she was in church. Apparently the student’s purple hair was a bit too much for this sweet old lady to take. I’ve kept in contact with this student in the intervening years and we can laugh at the moment now, but the fact remains, she never went back to that church for the two years or so I was still ministering there.

React: If you have been hurt by those in the church who are demanding a modern day circumcision, I apologize. If you have the misunderstanding that coming to Christ means you have to change your culture, your heritage, your style please understand this is not true. If you have gauges, piercings, ink… great. Come as you are. If you would rather wear cut off jeans than a three piece suit to church…. great, come as you are. If your hair is shaved to the scalp (like me) or flowing down your back, come. If you have a mohawk, mullet, wave, weave, fro or extensions… great, come as you are. Then let your neighbor, who is as “formal” or “stodgy” or simply as different from you as can be come as they are. God is about the business of changing hearts and lives, not clothes and culture.

Respond: 

God, help me not to be a roadblock to You through my judging. Help me to be open and loving and accepting of those who like and listen to different music than I do. God, forgive me for looking down on those of certain styles or cultures. I want to love everybody and see everybody just as You love them. I’m not there yet. I know it. Please, please help me to grow in this area. Those I’ve wronged or hurt, help them to forgive and forget. Please don’t let my failure to represent You well ever keep another from knowing You more.

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13 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 7:17 (As You Are)

  1. Yes yes and again yes. At my church we say “Come As You Are”. It actually says that on the outer wall of the church near the entrance. If it weren’t for that all embracing practice of love I would never have found Christ.

  2. Reblogged this on 1EarthUnited and commented:
    A beautifully astute observation, ppl inspired to minister fail at connecting with others. Seems obvious but conditioning runs deep. The objective has alway been to unite all ppl through god, by opening hearts and minds, with love in their hearts.
    A lovely post, and song. Thanks very much for sharing!

  3. Very apropos. Read a post on Facebook today complaining about how missionaries came to native lands with bibles, left their bibles and took their lands. Made me sad. To be light in darkness, we must carry the light. But let us not assume that all that is different is dark.

  4. Thank you for this. I have witnessed what you describe, seen people who were turned away from church, with my own eyes. It’s tragic. Who can calculate the loss? When I was brand new in my church (I came to Christ at age 52) these same mean spirited people would, as I describe it, “mug me in church”. It hurt and it wasn’t easy. Thank god I had the passion and the desire to stay right where I was. You couldn’t have gotten me out of there with dynamite. Unfortunately not everybody is in that place.

  5. Well said! How easily we all fall back into the role of Pharisee and hypocrite, placing burdens on people’s shoulders that they were never meant to carry. God forgive us.

  6. Amen!
    Often we, the church, invite people to join (therefore assimilate) into our ‘club’ rather than offer the grace and mercy of Christ. A sad substitute. May that new convert, girl, have other encounters with believers who will love her just as she is.
    Carole

  7. Needed the encouragement, tonight.

    Being apart of & active in a church for so long…then obeying Daddy-God in a bold & immediate way (after 7 long years of painful waiting on Him)…to follow Him to a “strange land”… only to be told we are not wanted & basically to go back where we came from…still trying HARD…to trust Him.

    Also being a rapid-cycling, bipolar, preacher’s daughter – mom of a special needs teen son who also is not able to perform “appropriately.”

    This is me. This is the auduence I know I’ve been called to reach.

    And I act on it

    But the rejection this season…in this “strange land” is unlike the rejection I have already lived with my entire life. ♡

  8. Thank God for those reps who have gone out and begun Churches where it is easy to blend into. Those Churches might appear drastic and revolutionary but the worship and the love ascends up to our God. He can judge the heart not us. He will rebuild those that need rebuilding. Not us. We are His ambassadors, ready to serve, to love, not to feel igged by the presence of the seeker’s appearance. Who knows what future blessing we dismissed from that seeking individual. Thanks.

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