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Does God Expect Perfection?
I’ve messed up so many times and in so many ways. Sometimes I’m not sure if my failures are as bad as I think they are or if I’m just really hard on myself. I’ve been trying to grow in my walk with God. I renewed my dedication to Him last Easter and since then I’ve asked myself more than once, “Does God expect perfection?”
What does the bible say?
The Bible does say that we should be perfect ….. “You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Taking just that one verse, many could potentially hold strong to the belief that imperfect people are unworthy of a place in the church. Sadly enough, many do just that. I think that knowing many Christians who are very critical of others has had a huge bearing on me my entire life.
In the past I certainly had the perception that, to be a Christian, I could no longer make mistakes. But is that true? Does God expect perfection from us once we commit ourselves to him? We saw in Matthew that it is written to be perfect. However, the bible also says that perfection simply does not flow from us as humans; Everyone makes mistakes. Perfection flows from God to us to make us continually more like him. I think the biggest religious misconception that we have (along with the biggest pressure that sinners and new Christians can face) is the expectation that with newfound Christianity comes sudden moral perfection.
We learn, though, in Philippians, that becoming more like Christ is very much a process and destination we must attempt to ultimately arrive at. Philippians 3:12 “It is not as though I had already attained it, nor were already perfect; but I follow after, that I may apprehend that for which Christ Jesus also apprehended me. “I think the biggest religious misconception that we have (along with the biggest pressure that sinners and new Christians can face) is the expectation that with newfound Christianity comes sudden moral perfection. Click To Tweet
We also learn from scripture that perfection actually does not exist in humans. In Hebrews 7:11 we learn this when the Bible tells us our lack of perfection was the entire reason we needed Jesus. “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?”
And also in Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV: “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”
Christians and churches that attempt to display perfection among them are simply misleading. When we try to fit people into a perfect church mold we push them away from God. Christians will still sin. They will still disappoint … and yet they are still forgiven. “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ.” Romans 8:1-2.
If Jesus does not even condemn those who belong to him then why are we so quick to condemn and judge others for their shortcomings, or even ourselves for our imperfections?
I recently allowed a situation that was unpleasant to make me very angry. I’ve wanted so much to become more like Jesus would have me be but in this short moment when I felt wronged, my anger turned to words and out of my mouth they spewed. I thought and said things I shouldn’t have. This situation went on for two months and I was unable for many weeks to completely reign my emotions back in. In the aftermath of this, I’ve been ashamed as a Christian. I’m still disappointed about the situation itself, just as I was, but I am also disappointed in myself. Initially I was disappointed that I even allowed myself to feel the anger. I felt ashamed that I even had a negative emotion because I felt like my renewed Christianity was now tarnished. The ‘Christian Woman’ blog I had been working toward seemed useless in my unworthiness!
God Gets It
Then, in the middle of me studying the topics of anger and sin in Christians for solace and repentance, the sermon at church one Sunday slapped me directly in the face ( AGAIN – it happens all the time! ). The pastor noted how our flaws and shortcomings are never a surprise to God. He is ALL KNOWING, after all. He also has a long history of using imperfect people for His good.
For example, as my pastor taught, in Genesis 9:20 we learn that Noah was a farmer after the flood and he planted a vineyard. He drank his wine in excess and became drunk. Afterward, he slept openly naked and uncovered, seen by his son. This was obviously frowned upon but it didn’t happen before Noah was ‘saved’ or was a ‘Christian’ : it happened long after Noah was already close to the Lord and had built the Ark for God (but well before Jesus was ever even born or Christianity existed as a religion ), So, believing that God is all knowing and never surprised by events, we can see here that He calls and uses people (even Noah who became drunk and openly naked) despite knowing they will mess up in the future. That tells us that if He so desires, the Lord can use us all regardless of our flaws.
Finally, the Lord says in 2 Cor. 12:9, “My grace is made perfect in weakness.” And it truly is. The reason Jesus is so amazing is that He willingly gave himself for us: For the sinful and undeserving. Our own grace for ourselves and others should strive to be so perfect, as well. If anything about us should be perfected, shouldn’t it be our grace and mercy? Will we ever achieve such perfection? Perfect love and holiness? No. We will never.
Does all this mean we may sin continually without thought or care? Still no! We should always try to be more like Christ and try our best to refrain from sin: always asking for forgiveness daily while we ask for more strength, more wisdom and better perception the following days of our lives.
Attempting to be Christ-like is all we can ever hope to be. Believers and followers of God’s will and direction is all we can ever hope to achieve. I, myself, pray for God’s strength upon me that I may do better the next time someone makes me angry. I pray to love my fellow humans when they do not do the things I see as fair and right. I pray to be shown my errors that I become more pleasing to God rather than pleasing to the Earth….
I also pray for God bless those whom have hurt me and to show them the error of their ways, too.
I hope to hear your comments about God’s grace and mercy in your own lives.