Psst… Lean in closer. I want to tell you a secret.
But you can’t tell anyone.
Get ready. This a good one.
Christians are not perfect.
Shhhh!! Yes, it’s true. But you can’t tell anyone! You will ruin the image that has been developed for years.
Somewhere along the way, some Christians started acting like they don’t have problems. Like they don’t face struggles or temptations. Somewhere along the way, a lot of Christians decided that, because of their Christianity, they can’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed or have a bad hair day.
It’s sad that it’s so shocking when some of us decide to just be honest and real.
My entire Christian life I have struggled with perfectionism. I was the preacher’s kid so, that’s what I was taught to do. Hide your emotions, hide your true feelings and opinions, hide it when you disagree, don’t let anyone see you struggle, don’t let anyone know you’re being tempted. It isn’t worth disappointing someone or causing a conflict. It isn’t worth letting someone think you’re failing.
In more relevant terms, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”
I’m not blaming any specific person or group of people. I’m just saying, somewhere along the way, some Christians took a wrong turn and ended up living a lie… and they have passed their mess and dysfunction down the family line.
One of the most popular Scriptures used to drill this idea into us is Matthew 5:48, taken completely out of context. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
1) You have to take Scripture in context with the other Scriptures around it. Just grabbing a sentence here and there can cause personal opinions to become more important than the actual meaning of the overall text. In the verses leading up to this Sentence, Jesus is telling the people to love everyone, both neighbors and enemies, and to treat everyone with kindness.
2) You have to know the original meaning of the words written in Scripture. Believe it or not, the Bible was not originally written in English. It has been translated many times over the centuries so it is easy for the original meanings to get lost in translation.
The word “perfect” used in Matt. 5:48 is the word “teleios” in the original Greek. The meaning of this word is to be “full grown, adult, mature” and to posses integrity.
Jesus was not saying “You have to be Perfect!” He was basically saying, “Don’t be childish and immature, only being kind to those who are kind to you and hating those who are mean to you.”
Anyone can love those who love them and hate those who hate them. Being a Christian means doing what others can’t through and because of the Spirit of God. Being “perfect” like God means loving everyone with His Love, regardless of how they feel about or treat us.
Now, here is a Scripture to dispel all fear that we have to be the human definition of perfection: “But this man [Jesus], after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified (Heb. 10:12 & 14, my emphasis added).”
Jesus, the only truly perfect one to ever walk the earth, has perfected us through His sacrifice. That’s it. It’s not about us, it’s not about our perfection, it’s about His being perfect in us. It is about Jesus. It is about His sacrifice.
That’s the biggest issue with Christians trying to portray perfection… It takes the attention off of Jesus.
One of the most liberating benefits of being a Christian is that we do not have to be perfect. Jesus takes us as we are, in the middle of our mess. He washes us, He renews us. His Spirit in us is perfect, which cleanses us from the inside out.
If we can be perfect on our own, then we don’t need Jesus.
If it looks like to others that we have obtained some kind of human perfection, then they feel that they have to do the same before they can come to Jesus.
And that takes away one of the most amazing things about Him. That takes away one of the greatest draws to Him.
But, if we’re honest, if we admit our mess, if we confess our failures, then it makes Jesus that much more amazing. It shows His unconditional Love. It proves His words of forgiveness as true. It makes “this Christian thing” so much more appealing.
Anyone can be fake. Being real takes guts. It can only be done through the power of God’s Spirit. It takes a desire to grow God’s kingdom deep enough to drive us to be vulnerable.
But it is so worth it.
Being real means finding freedom in Christ. It means allowing God to break chains off of our lives. It means being relieved of the pressure to always look, and act, and feel perfect. If we’re real, then we can really lead people into the family of God. And there is no greater act of love than to lead someone else into the arms of Jesus.