Flawed & Holy
As Jesus lovers and followers, we are called to strive for holiness.
And not just in the perfect pair of jeans that have those perfectly placed holes in just the right spots so it looks like we’ve been livin’ on the edge. To be honest, I don’t have to buy jeans with holes in them (although I do) because I tend to wear in my own pretty good, although they don’t usually end up in the desired spots. Mine end up in the seat of my pants or at the bottom of my pants leg. I can’t wait for that to become on trend. Gee, catch up already! I’m sitting on a gold mine over here!
But while jean holiness is cool and all, it’s totally optional and not what I’m referring to. NO. I’m talking about doing your utmost to live a holy life before God. So, grab your popcorn and buckle up because it’s about to get judgmental up in here.
I actually would like to open this up by being perfectly imperfectly real with you right now.
I haven’t been perfect during anytime of my entire life. Shocker, I know. I have had flaws meet me at every turn. And I’m guessing you have, too.
But, Jesus said in Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This is the part where the words of the sage, old Scooby Doo come to my mind, “Ru-roh!” This is also where it becomes quite obvious that I am the mother of two children and have seen and read my fair share of Scooby Doo books.
But don’t give up just yet, Scoobs. There’s hope!
Jesus knew that we couldn’t be perfect, certainly not apart from Him. He knew that our righteousness was like filthy rags compared to His. In dying on the cross, His righteousness became ours. And that is what it is to have the free gift of salvation. Saved by grace by the One who’s righteousness could cover all our sin.
But, somewhere along the line the ideas of perfection and holiness become stumbling blocks to our faith and growth in Jesus.
And I think that is where the devil gets a giant foothold in our thinking.
We either hide from God because we aren’t “perfect” or aren’t ready to be “perfect” or think we have to be “perfect” in order to declare Jesus Lord and Savior
We wear our imperfections or lack of holiness like a banner, almost prideful even, and pretty much declare ourselves as grace-covered fence riders with one leg hanging over each side impeding our desire and growth towards holiness.
And, so how do we reconcile the two?
For much of my life, I was hanging out in the first scenario. The lies of perfection kept me hiding my struggles from God. I believed that God required perfection and the weight of trying to measure up was too heavy. It led to me spending much of my twenties living far from Him.
It took me many, many years and God’s grace and mercy, to figure out that I was never called to be flawless. Matter of fact, God met me right in the middle of my mess and pulled me out of it. And continued to pull me out of it, time and time again, offering His grace and love wave after wave. It is only through those moments, when I leaned on Him and He pulled me out, did I come to realize that my walk with Him has nothing to do with my own perfection but everything to do with His. That He was sufficient for me. That His strength is made perfect in my weakness. That I was never going to be perfect apart from Him, and this was something He already knew. I mean, it’s why he died on the cross. We are ALL imperfect.
I had been chasing perfection instead of chasing Jesus. I had been measuring myself by my sins instead of His grace. I had been trying to lean on myself, instead of His mercy and love. I had it all wrong.
He taught me that the more I seek Him, the more I become like Him. The more I seek Him, the more my desires to be holy overcome my desires to walk in my flesh. He has drawn me into a love relationship with Him that has left me astounded and amazed. And not because I’m perfect, but because He is. Not because of anything to do with me, but everything to do with Him. Now, when I hear that song by Hank Williams, Sr. “I saw the light” I know what he’s talking about!
Jesus has shown me that he doesn’t want me hiding. There’s no need for it. I can freely bring any transgression, any area that I am struggling with and lay it boldly before Him. I don’t need to do things out of my own strength and I don’t need to hide my imperfections from Him. He loves me anyways. He doesn’t turn His back from me when I’m not perfect. He offers His mercy and grace to try again and His sustaining love that never fails even when I do. He provides His strength when I am weak and His word is a source of comfort and correction when I lose my way.
So, now I strive for holiness out of a love for Him not mere duty. And isn’t that the point? Isn’t that the difference between relationship versus religion? When we fail in an area, He’s right there to lift our heads and help us try again. There’s a freedom and grace and love that accompanies us on this walk with Jesus that is never ending. And it is life changing.
Then there’s that second scenario we can find ourselves in. The one where we get comfortable with our status quo. Content in remaining unchanged, we give up on striving for holiness as we resign ourselves to a life of “little” sins here, there, and everywhere, and don’t feel the need to surrender or grow. But, God loves us too much to leave us there. He didn’t die on the cross so that we could continue to wallow in our flesh.
He calls us to resign ourselves not to our sins, but to the One who died for them. He wants us to live spirit filled lives and to fully walk in His will for our lives. He wants to move boldly in our lives and through our shortcomings! He wants to show us how He truly can bring beauty from ashes. But, if we cling to those ashes…those sins that seem so little…those things that keep us tied to the world despite what God’s word has to say about it…then, my friend, that beauty is not coming. We will miss out on the blessings that come from being obedient to God’s word. Miss out on witnessing firsthand how God’s strength becomes perfect in our weakness. Miss out on maturing in the Lord and deepening our walk with Him. Miss out on seeing God’s glory in our lives in a certain area.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24
So, how do we reconcile these two ways of thinking about perfection and holiness?
I think Paul says it best in Philippians 3: 12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
We keep moving forward. Always forward. In Jesus.