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Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Christian Perfection

Many people think Christians should be perfect. We aren't! And when we aren't, people call us hypocrites when in reality we are simply human. More disturbing, Christians often do this to each other - brother against brother, leader against leader, denomination against denomination.

My view of humanity is simple - you are a Christian or you aren't.

If you are a Christian, your human body shares space with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the perfect part. It's the part that places in us the desire to be like Jesus. It's the part that puts that check in our system when the human side of us does something really stupid.

And the human side of us always does something really stupid.

If it weren't for our tendencies toward humanness, Jesus would not have had to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice to atone for our poor choices. If God had fully infused us with the Holy Spirit, making us wholly perfect, there would have been no need for Jesus. But God did not want perfect zombies wandering the earth loving Him under divine force. He wanted children who would love Him by choice. Through the teachings and actions of Jesus, God sent the perfect Holy Spirit to dwell in our imperfect human hearts.

Through the Holy Spirit, Christians are led, disciplined, inspired, and encouraged. And when our humanness causes us to stumble off the road as we walk, the Holy Spirit is there to gently nudge us back or, at times, give us a good strong kick in the rump to get us back on track.

Does that mean it's okay for a Christian to sin with wild abandon, without conscience, and without any desire to seek forgiveness? No! In fact, if you are sinning and there is no check in your system (that little nudge that says, maybe I shouldn't be doing this), then I implore you to check your heart and determine if the Holy Spirit truly resides there.

When a Christian finds herself gossiping about the unmarried couple who just moved in across the street, the Holy Spirit will jump in and say, "Whoa, child, are you so freely without sin that you can speak so boldy of your neighbor?" The Christian will say "no, I am not!", realize she has stumbled, stabilize herself, invite her neighbors to church, and continue on her walk. Will she continue to make mistakes? Yes, she is human, but she will learn and grow and try to do better with each step.

I visualize two roads. One is the spiritual road, engulfed in light, leading to sanctification and a residence in Heaven. The other is the human road, engulfed in dark, leading to the rewards of the flesh and... well... death, hell, the end.

As the Christian walks along the spiritual road, her eyes occasionally veer toward the temptations of the dark and inviting medians and off-ramps. If her relationship with God is strong, the Christian will turn her eyes back toward Heaven. But in a weak and tired moment, her big toe will cross into the dark, and then her leg, and then her shoulder, and before she knows it, she is walking or sprinting up the dark off-ramp. But the Christian is blessed because when she gets to the top of the off-ramp, the Holy Spirit will grab her ear and drag her across the street, down the on-ramp, and back onto the will-lit road.

Yes, the Christian has sinned, but she has not abandoned the road. And why is this okay? Because God, knowing we are human and sin is inherent, sent Jesus to cover us when stumble.

In contrast, as the non-Christian walks along the human road she has many choices. God tries to make the non-Christian's choice easy. The off-ramp to Heaven is a flashing bright light - easy to spot along the dark road. God gives the non-Christian many opportunities to take the right exit, but all of the temptations in the medians and off-ramps of the spiritual road are abundant and easily accessed as the non-Christian wanders along the dark road. She doesn't even have to venture onto the medians or the off-ramps - the fun is in her immediate path. She doesn't have to think about it as she passes the flashing off-ramp to the light road. She's having too much fun on the dark road - what could be better?

Besides, the spiritual road will just tell her all she's doing wrong, and when she does wrong, she'll just be called a hypocrite like all those "so-called Christians". So why bother, she decides, and eventually she doesn't even notice the flashing off-ramp anymore.

Here's the interesting thing about a Christian. A Christian will also step onto the non-Christians' dark roads so we can flash our bright light a little closer to those who have begun to ignore the well-lit off-ramps. So sometimes Christians haven't stumbled off the spiritual road at all - we've just decided to carry it with us as we search for those who haven't yet discovered it.

So, if you are not a Christian, I, an imperfect and sinning Christian, will continue to flash a light as you journey along your dark road. I pray you follow it to the right exit before your road ends.

Oh, and there is such a thing as Christian perfection. He is called Jesus Christ.

Scripture Reference: 1 John 1:5-10

3 comments :

  1. Stephanie Faris said...

    What always bothered me as a Christian were judgmental Christians. I spent a lot of time in my 20s around people who believed anyone who did anything against their beliefs was bad and "going to Hell." They would verbalize this constantly. They refused to associate with anyone who did these things.

    I feel that the best thing a Christian can do is set a good example. Gossiping and judging is a bad example and I've known more than a few people who stay away from organized religion for that very reason. They see church as a place full of women who stand around gossiping about others and feel that if they aren't "perfect," they'll be judged and talked about too. This isn't the environment God intended...and it's not good Christian behavior. I strive every day to be a loving, caring person who looks at the good in people and hopes for the best.

  2. warrenjc said...

    Very good analogy Karen. Sorry it took so long getting here. Been very busy with my own writing. I haven't taken much time to go Online. I am finishing up one book to submit and am about have way done with my outline for my second book, which I am rewriting.

    You have a good way with words sister. Keep it up. God bless. Usually when judging others we are pointing at them. But when we point a finger, I've noticed that there are three fingers pointing back at us. Whats that about a beam in my eye? LOL

  3. Warren Baldwin said...

    One reason we can't judge accurately is that we don't always know what a person has come from. Someone leaving sin may still be overloaded with problems, and they stumble a lot. But, they may be better off spiritually than someone who has gone to church for years but hasn't grown much. Only God can tell for sure! Good post.