The other day I was frustrated and talking with The Lord. I wondered why I read so much in The Bible about Christ being our peace, but I often don’t experience that peace. Where is the disconnect? I asked Him.
About six months ago I heard a frightening statistic. Less than 5% of Christians have read the Bible cover to cover.
* LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT *
That means around 95% of people who profess to believe in Christ are biblically illiterate and have a skewed view of the man they call Savior. This was so appalling to me because I was one of those people. And it just so happened, I was in the middle of reading The Bible cover to cover for the first time in my life. No skipping Leviticus. No rushing through Chronicles. I was on a quest to read it all and this statistic fueled that fire even more.
The problem came when The Lord pointed out my time with Him had become more about me not being a “statistic” than really resting in His presence. I was racing through books of the bible like my salvation depended on it. I had to get this done. I didn’t want to be one of “those” Christians any longer. So, my time with God was no longer refreshing because I had an agenda. The very place where I was supposed to receive grace and refreshing became the place I sought to prove myself educated, mature and holy.
I was so desperate to become the “perfect” Christian; I missed the whole point of spending time with God. I missed the whole point of His sacrifice. Man, don’t we all do that? Don’t we all have our own ways of achieving perfection in our lives that does not include the grace of God?
Maybe for you it looks like throwing the best parties your city has ever seen so people will think you are the most creative, resourceful and “servant hearted” person in town.
Maybe it looks like trying to give your kids everything they want so they call you the “cool parent”?
Maybe it looks like re-writing birthday cards 14 times until your handwriting has the perfect curvature your friends will swoon over.
I say these things knowing every person reading this has some twisted idea about where their worth comes from. Women have been trained to think for DECADES that if our home is kept, children are happy and we can throw a killer party, then, and only then are we acceptable. Men are taught to be unemotional, hard working and “strong.” Though, that strength isn’t necessarily connected to the power of Christ.
Since this is what society tells us we should be, that is what we pursue. We pursue perfection instead of Christ. We pursue societal standards instead of undeserved grace. We run around like frantic orphaned mules because we would rather earn our way into The Kingdom instead of allowing Our Shepherd to guide us into an eternity of unmerited bliss.
In Galatians 3 Paul says “Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the spirit are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” The funny thing about grace it’s the very force that can put our minds at ease and hearts at rest, but its also the thing we spend the most time running from. We don’t want to receive. We want to earn. We want to prove our worth through our efforts. We strive for perfection. We strive to be good instead of accepting that Christ had to die for us because without Him, we can do nothing but sin.
Grace is so good because it is a gift. It is so good because there is nothing you or I can do to deserve it. Every time we try to prove we can, we end up belittling the agonizing hours our Savior spent on The Cross giving it to us. You see, perfectionism kills Christianity because perfectionism has nothing to do with Christ. Anytime we create goals to define our self worth, we also create distance between ourselves and The Lord.
Whether we are Jews trying to achieve perfection through circumcision (like in Galatians) or a mom trying to prove to her neighbors (and herself) she can juggle eighty five things at once, its all the same. We submit to the “yoke of slavery” Paul talks about in Galatians 5 when we try to achieve perfection on our own, apart from Christ. The yoke of slavery isn’t following the law or using it to train yourself in holiness. Its using the law (or our version of law we make up in our heads) to justify ourselves as good or holy.
Trying to prove yourself worthy, good or holy IS slavery.
“It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” There is no other way.
Friend, if today you find yourself relating with any of the things I’ve said above, can I give you a word of advice?
Stop. Right now. Tell God you’re sorry and turn from striving. Let Him show you how to be content with who you are right in this moment. Messy, imperfect you. Accept that Jesus’ spirit is the Spirit of truth, not you and not me. It is HIS job to guide us into repentance, truth and change. HE is our counselor and advocate.
The book of John says “But when He, the spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” And “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
We do not need to spend our time making a list of all the ways we are screwing up. When The Spirit of Truth wants us to change, He will do it. He will lead us there. In the mean time, we have to learn to accept that God loves us right now, just as we are. We don’t have to change for Him to love us more. We don’t have to be different.
We do not have the ability to be perfect. We don’t have the ability to save ourselves. Heck, we cant even change ourselves without Christ. So lets just stop. Lets stop trying to be what we never were in the first place. Lets remove the yoke of slavery and live in the freedom Christ intended for us to live in. For where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom!