When you think of Billy Graham crusades, you almost can’t help but think of the little song, “Just As I Am.” When the call is given that song has a message people need: “Come just as you are. Don’t try to fix yourself before you come. Don’t lie about who you are. Don’t try to be someone or something you are not. Just come. The love of Jesus is for you.” It is a good message. Too bad we don’t really mean it.
Well, let’s say the system doesn’t believe it. The system can’t have people staying the way they were before they came. After all, people sin. They think wrong thoughts and they do wrong things. Their ideas cause problems for them and others. They need to be willing to change. And they should change quickly.
So really, the legalist system (and, to some extent, the great majority of churches are included) doesn’t want people just as they are, but as they should be. Conformity.
Now, I understand that many people are in trouble when they come to Jesus. He offers them a new life and, yes, a new way of thinking. Change is not only possible, but desirable for most people. Wrong thinking has led them to wrong decisions and wrong actions to difficult consequences. And wrong thinking can and should be changed.
But that change has nothing to do with conformity. It has to do with love and health and peace. Differences are not only accepted in Christ, but are celebrated as expressions of the wonderful variety within the mind and heart of God. When a church expects its people to dress the same, eat the same, and live the same; that church does not represent the love of Jesus. Conformity is not part of the gospel.
God has made His children to be different from each other. We have different physical appearances, different goals, different tastes, different backgrounds, and different languages. When we come together in those differences, to be united in Jesus, we represent the true Church.