I’ve mentioned once or twice recently about spending the summer working at a Christian camp in Greenwich, New York. One of the things that happened there was that every Wednesday there would be a communion service to teach the campers what Eucharist was all about, what all the stuff that happens in an Anglican communion service means.
It also happened that Wednesdays were “Wacky Wednesday” were us counsellors would dress up to some crazy theme for breakfast. And one week it was superhero week. So I made myself a cape from an airplane blanket, and did the whole superhero thing of wearing underwear over my trousers. I was also wearing sunglasses as that was easier than making a superhero mask. I even came up with a name “SuperAwesome”.
And because of an overrunning staff meeting I didn’t have a chance to take the stuff off before going to Christian Education. So I had this great moment when I realized that I was about to take communion wearing a blanket cape, underwear over my shorts and sunglasses on.
My first thought was that it really wasn’t appropriate to take communion the way I was dressed. But then I realized that it didn’t matter. After all God doesn’t look at the outward appearances, He looks at the heart (see 1 Samuel 16:7). When we come to God He isn’t after a scrubbed up performance where we put on our good clothes, smarten up and leave anything stained at home. He wants us to come as we are.
He wants us to be open, honest and real with Him. He doesn’t want us to act holy when things are really a mess. He doesn’t want us to put on a fake happiness when inside everything is crumbling to pieces, causing us hidden pain and heartache. He wants us to come as we are, and let Him wash away the stains of our sins in the river of Jesus’ blood, which makes us white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18). He wants us to come as we are, not afraid to let Him know that right now life sucks so that He can comfort us, gathering us like “a mother hen protects her chicks beneath her wings” (Luke 13:34), reassuring us that he has a plan to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11), and that “nothing can ever separate us from His love” (Romans 8:38).
When Jesus says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) he doesn’t specify that first you must get your life sorted and be living a sin free life. He simply says “come”, come just the way you are, with all your problems, with all your emotional baggage, with all the stuff that you think makes you unworthy of God’s love, come as you are and enjoy rest. Enjoy the peace that comes from knowing that the grace we have experienced because of Jesus’ death covers all our stains and failures and allows us to come before God. God our Father is standing with arms outstretched, waiting for us to come as we are, with no more acting holy or pretending everything is ok, but to come as we are and receive from Him the love we need.
So don’t worry on making sure you look right and you give the impression of having it all together. Make sure your heart is right with God, know that He forgives all your sin, that no matter how unclean and unworthy you feel it cannot separate you from His love, and come honestly, as you are, to God today.