I used to live my life in pursuit of spiritual perfection. It was by the diligent duty of “Christian stuff” that I knew I would ensure God’s acceptance of me. Subconsciously I made a checklist of stuff that I needed to do (prayer, bible reading, fasting, going to church, not swearing, not lusting, not doing drugs or murdering anyone, and on and on). I believed that by my perfect actions I would deserve salvation and blessings from God.
Have you done that? The making of an unspoken list of stuff you should and shouldn’t do so that you will feel like a good person? Maybe you believe that in some way your worth in God’s eyes goes up, or down, depending on what you do or don’t do on that list?
The effect of living this way was crushing to me. I had created the front of being a “good guy”, people thought that I had it all together with Jesus. But behind the scenes I was failing at almost everything on my list. I felt the need to maintain my facade of uprightness and so obviously I couldn’t talk to anyone about my struggles, so I faced the depression and shame alone. I was constantly weighed down with guilt, living my life as a true hypocrite. Far from perfect.
You too? When you slow down long enough to consider how your list is working out for you…what do you come up with? Is there stuff that you are not doing that you should be? How are you doing with the stuff you don’t want to do?
The struggle is real. Wanting to be perfect but not having the ability to make it happen. Paul, from the bible, knew this struggle very well (Romans 7:7-25). It’s somewhat comforting knowing that one of the greatest followers of Jesus lived with this tension as well. But more than being encouraged by his confession of imperfection are the words of hope that God speaks to us through him.
Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So after almost a decade of failing at my list…I ditched it. The Holy Spirit had directed me to truths like these, through the bible, that were deeper and more real than anything else I had ever read. I stopped “working” the list and started letting Jesus make me right in Gods eyes. What a sweet thing freedom is after you have shouldered a heavy thing for many many years! Guilt was gone. I started being real with people and letting them help me confront the sin in my life. The unrealistic standard of perfection was seen for what it is, unattainable by my actions. No longer was I obsessed with what I can/can’t do, now I’m all about what Jesus has already done! Now when I pray or read my bible or go to church…I’m not trying to earn anything, or impress anyone. Now the burden of doing the list is gone and I’m free to do the things Jesus leads me to do.
You can have that freedom from your list too, through Jesus. We are all far from perfect. But Jesus lived a perfect life, and he gives that one to us. The only requirement is that we give him ours…for whatever it’s worth.