We’re in a blog series titled, “The Tangle of Perfectionism.” And it’s a nasty tangle, indeed.
Last week we unpacked how we’re all trying — somewhere or somehow — to be perfect, and how it is exhausting. We also talked about how striving for perfection is actually very selfish. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
~ Sometimes I yell at people who drive too slow. (seriously though… just drive the speed limit)
~ Or bad words come out of my mouth. (yep, even that one)
~ Or I think really negative things about others. (luckily I have the wherewithal not to act on them)
And it often feels like others expect me to be perfect, and are shocked when something I do or say doesn’t line up with what I believe.
Other times, people expect me to have the answers to life’s problems… like I have a better understanding of God’s ways and will than they do.
And then there’s the pressure to have the perfect God-fearing husband and kids, the godliest marriage, the most compassionate servant’s heart, the wisest advice, and faith-filled encouragement.
I know you feel the pressure too.
But yikes! Who in the world can live up to those kind of unrealistic expectations?
Not me, that’s for sure. Not even close.
But so often, the world expects us to be “perfect” Christians — a crown none of us can wear, but so often attempt to.
And in our exhaustion from striving to be something we can’t be, an unknown author’s words help loosen the knot from that tangled expectation:
When I say that “I am a Christian”…
I am not shouting that “I am clean living.” I’m whispering, “I was lost, but now I’m found and forgiven.”
I don’t speak of this with pride. I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.
I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.
I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.
I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.
I’m not holier than thou, I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace, somehow!
But because others know you’re a Christ-follower, they expect you to behave perfectly. They watch how you handle life’s problems. They watch how you respond when you get hurt. They watch how you respond to loss.
You are under scrutiny.
~ They’ll call you hypocritical and judgmental. (And honestly, they’re right. We are those things because we’re human. But they are too)
~ They’ll say there’s nothing special about you or the God you follow. (Now we know that’s not right)
And truth is, this response is expected from the world. But it gets worse.
As Christians, we tend to hold each other to that same worldly standard of perfection.
Have you noticed there’s little tolerance for mess-ups within the body of Christ? And when someone does fall short—like we all do—they are hung out to dry.
When her marriage fails, we shake our head because we’re sure she deserved it. When her child gets in trouble, we point the finger at her mothering skills. When she has a moral failure, we abandon her as a lost cause.
But that isn’t how Jesus responds.
… He doesn’t expect perfection.
… He has endless grace for failure.
… He won’t abandon us when we mess up.
… He always sees the good in us.
And nowhere in the Bible does it say Jesus expects us to be flawless.
But He does expect us to love. And just how can we love others when we’re busy pointing accusing fingers?
Well, we can’t.
But you know what we can do? We can choose to love with grace—grace for failures, grace for bad decisions, and grace for ungodly responses.
We need it, and we need to give it.
God knows we’ll never be perfect this side of Heaven. He never expected us to be. So why are we expecting it of each other?
There is no such thing as a perfect Christian. Only a perfect Christ.
These are the kinds of conversations you’ll find in Untangled. Have you purchased your copy yet?