Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? –Galatians 2:17
I was asked to be part of a conversation the other day. Two people were going back and forth about the desire to strive for perfection in their Christian lives. I listened as they debated terminology and offered analogies. As I stood there, it became evident that they both wanted to be the best Christian they could be. They just differed on the avenue and approach to achieving perfection.
The goal is noble and the heart bent toward godliness is admirable. However, in all of their considerations, neither of them mentioned Jesus once.
Do we do things for Jesus, or do we allow Him to do them in us?
A person who is keenly aware of their achievement is, by default, fully aware of themselves. It is a badge of time passed and strength built. It is a Babel Tower, not a Sacrificial Lamb.
A person who is keenly aware of their sin is also aware of their need for Jesus. Isaiah’s experience teaches us that when you are aware of your sin, you are in the presence of God.
I do not appear perfect because I refuse to lie about my shortcomings. I am not perfectly moral and do not pretend to be. Choosing to live honestly before God and others avails the opportunity for the shortcomings to be offered up in their entirety in order to be made fully ineffective. The power of the sin is in the lie of the secret.
And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? –Galatians 2:17-18
If sin gives awareness of the need for Jesus, then sin does not hold the control. God shows sovereignty over sin by turning it into a path to the Savior. Your sin bounces off the presence of God and illuminates your need for Jesus. Sin does not wear Jesus as a necklace.
If you are trying to please God through your own efforts, you are repudiating the sacrifice. If it’s ‘perfection’ you’re after, then release the grip you have on yourself. Freedom is found in the letting go. Jesus is the only way to be made ‘perfect’ and any effort otherwise is a renouncement of your relationship with Him. Taking on the role of savior or achiever in your life is a blatant act of rebellion against the generosity of the gift.
Wanting to be like Jesus is not the problem. The misunderstanding is found in the interpretation of what Jesus stood for. He came to be the sacrifice for Love. If you must strive, strive for Truth. If you want to throw in your efforts for perfection, make the effort to be perfect in Love. Love God with all of your existence and love others the way Jesus loves you. That is a true offering and it’s one that takes no consideration of self.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. -Galatians 2:21