Come As You Are

  • Pete Johnson
Man laying down on basketball court after playing

In the early part of 2,000 A.D., our family lived in Atlanta Georgia. I worked there in a Christian School as the Athletic Director and Coached basketball. Our summers were filled with basketball camps and summer leagues galore, the more the merrier! In Atlanta Georgia, basketball is a very big thing. Parents would spend enormous sums of money to send their “prospective college basketball star” to the many big-name camps all around the metro area. You could walk into any of these camps and be amazed at the talent level, even at the 2nd -4th-grade level. There were camps with multitudes of 12-year-olds who had already grown to be 6 foot and taller, even dunking the ball for a majority of them was not alien in these camps. But even with the level of talent present, many were mediocre at best, even some who were not very talented at all. The mediocre campers would receive little to no attention, thus their summer basketball camp experience was not very productive in developing their skill level. Even though they wanted to get better, it rarely happened. Yes, they were present at a big name camp, got the T-shirt, but they left with no marked improvement as a basketball player.

With that in mind, I decided to offer camps for kids who were not as skilled. Marketing it as a “Come as you are” camp. “Come”, I said, “even if you don’t have any skill.  We will work with you to develop your skill so that you can make your school team”. For the most part, this camp was very successful.

But, there was this one time. A young man, who attended our school came with his older brother. Neither had much basketball skill or knowledge of the game. Both were very different in their approach to developing their skill. The older brother worked very hard, listening intently to all the instructions, asking often, “Coach is this correct?” His brother, not so much. One of the reasons his mother wanted him to attend was with the hope that he would develop a love for the game and become more active. His lifestyle and choice of activity was laying around and eating, which was quite noticeable by his physical appearance. During one ball handling drill where the campers were dribbling up and down the court, I noticed a Cheeto on the floor. I thought to myself, “that’s odd, we have just started and have had no breaks yet, how did I miss that when I swept the floor”? Then I noticed another one, then down the floor another one, and yet another one! They were in a semi-straight line going the length of the court and in front of these misplaced Cheetos was this young man. As I looked more intently I noticed that he didn’t have basketball shorts on. He was wearing cut off jeans and both of his pockets were filled with Cheetos, and I mean as many as he could stuff in there! He was eating and dribbling at the same time. As he alternated his dribbling hand, he was pulling out Cheetos to eat with his other hand. Throughout this ball handling method he was using, he was unaware that as he pulled out one Cheeto he was dropping another out on the floor!

Needless to say, that young man did not improve his skill level that week.

This young man took up the offer to “Come as You Are”, but he didn’t have the desire to “not stay as he was”.

Many of those who profess Christ as their Savior live this way. While making the statement that they are Christians, their lifestyles are still the same as it was before, with little to no desire to change. It is true that Christ compels us to come as we are to him for salvation, for there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We are unable to make ourselves clean before we come to him, for he alone does the cleaning up. However, “Come as you are” is often misunderstood today. Come as you are doesn’t mean that it makes no difference how you live as long as you say you believe, or as long as you attend church. Scripture is clear that when we come as we are to Christ, we don’t stay as we were.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The question before all of us who claim the name of Christ is “Am I still the same as when I came?”

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)