Jesus said; “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Essentially Jesus was saying to everyone “come as you are”. The message of the gospel to the world from the First Century until the Twenty-first Century has always been “come as you are”. The message of the gospel to any and everyone is that anyone can respond to the gospel in spite of the condition that one might be found. Everyone can come as they are and believe in Jesus (John 3:16. Everyone can come in their present condition and repent of their sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38), and after repentance anyone can confess their faith in Jesus and be baptized (Romans 10:10, Acts 2:38). Come as you are and as Jesus said “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:29). To come as you are does not mean and should not imply that there is nothing to do and no changes to be made in one’s life.
The phrase “come as you are” is often used by some churches of Christ and denominations to imply that there is no learning or repentance necessary in order to be right with God or his people. Jesus went to the homes of sinners on several occasions because he understood that one cannot come to him apart from how they are because the journey to Jesus begins with “as you are” (Luke 19:1-7). Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus in the condition that he found the chief tax collector and one who was hated by the people, but Jesus did not leave him in that condition, as he was, but helped him to come to salvation which brought about many changes in his life (Luke 19:8-10). The issue is not if one should “come as you are” or not, the real issue is one willing to allow the gospel of Christ to make changes in one after coming “as you are”. You need to know that in whatever condition that you might find yourself that the gospel is for you.
The phrase “come as you are” is also often used by some churches of Christ and denominations to suggest that one does not have to “dress up” to be present in worship. While one may not have to “dress up” the Bible does teach that all must dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:9) and included in the word “modest” is the word “appropriate”. The word “modest” means adequate covering to meet God’s will and also that which is appropriate for the occasion. Everyone does have the personal responsibility to dress modestly in the complete sense. “Come as you are” could be a response to what James dealt with and the problem among brethren in the First Century. Some Christians were showing partiality or favoritism to those that had more economic income and could dress in finer clothing. They were making distinctions based upon economic and social standards (James 2:1-5). This kind of partiality has no place in the church and neither does a disrespecting based on the word “modesty” in the broadest sense of the word.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and a part of that powerful process is changing the mindset and heart of one who comes to Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote; “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2). You may come as you are because the gospel welcomes everyone, but if one does not want to see any changes in their life, thinking or heart then one has continued to “be conformed to this world”. The power of the gospel is to take one as they are and transform them into what God desires. Yes, “come as you are”, but do not be satisfied with what you are spiritually, but let the power of the gospel transform you into someone ever greater spiritually.