Come As You Are (but not Welcomed as you are)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you have by now heard of or seen Kim Burrell and her now infamous viral video claiming that homosexuals are perverts and all homosexuals will die in 2017 unless they change their ways. Since then, she has been uninvited from engagements, released from her radio show, on KTSU, and received a public backlash that seems to have no end in sight. The Love and Liberty Fellowship Church, the church Kim Burrell founded in Houston, TX, slogan is: “Where we’re building each other to build God’s Kingdom.” —Really?
For centuries, the world has heard the Church say “come as you are”, and has used it as its mantra for getting guests inside the walls of the church—which is somewhat effective until they actually come as they are. From someone who has been inside of the body of Christ since birth, I believe that we want people to come as they are, but we don’t actually welcome them as they are. Unfortunately, these two concepts are completely different ideologies. “Come as you are”, but make sure you put on your good clothes. “Come as you are”, but don’t tell everyone you had a child out of wedlock. “Come as you”, but if you’re gay, or a prostitute, or someone we just don’t like, you can come but you’re not welcomed.
You disagree? Okay. A guest walks into the church and instead of being greeted with authentic excitement and joy, they are often greeted with judgmental and cold stares. If they can get past this initial greeting, they are then greeted with songs of praise, songs of God’s love and amazing grace, only to hear a sermon on that focuses of “bashing” rather than the love, which was just sung.Yet, the bashing is not of everyone and all sins, just the ones that are “disgusting” and the sins the Church must take a stance against. You know these sins: being gay, being unmarried with kids, etc. While bashing the adulterers, the liars, the backstabbers, those who worship money, or the ones who claim to love Christ but mistreat those that don’t look/sound/act just like them are intentionally omitted.
We wonder why our churches can’t grow, but we send out mixed signals, concerning who is worthy enough to worship with us, which leads people to believe that God only loves a select few. Even worse, God is as just as fake as the representatives inside of His Church. It should be noted that being inside of a building does not make us any better than people outside of the same building. Truth be told, when we are outside of the church, while still being “saved”, we blend in with the rest of the world better than your favorite makeup artist can blend blemishes on a face. Luther Vandross sang “a chair is still a chair even when there’s no one sitting there,” well a fake Christian is still a fake Christian even if they are sitting inside of the church.
Instead of using her platform to “build others up to build God’s kingdom”, Kim Burrell, and countless others who believes like her, choose to use their influence, status, and platform to tear others down, (but that’s the way of the land in the Church community.) We are granted the opportunity each and every day to show the world the love that Christ commanded us to do (John 13:34-35), but we take the opportunity to tell someone, with the most judgmental tone ever, how perverted, disappointing, and unworthy they are when we are actually no better than them.
So the next time you are ready to tell someone “come as you are” make sure you AND your church are ready to welcome them as they are. The same God who saved you is available to them. The same grace that has brought you this far is the same grace on which they are entitled. Practice loving someone for who they are the same way Christ loves you before someone opens your secret closet and “bashes” you for what comes tumbling out.