I am terrible at being a Christian.
Yeah. I am.
I fail, eh, sin daily. Sometimes multiple times an hour. Just ask anyone who is around me all day and they will tell you that for someone who is on fire for Jesus and crazy in love with God - I surely should be a better illustration of what a Christian acts like.
I am just so completely imperfect.
Which makes me wonder, do we have to be perfect to be a christian?
The Bible speaks about perfectionism.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us." 1 John 1:8
"Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. ... Do not be excessively righteous, ..." Ecclesiastes 7:16,20
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23
God wouldn't have sent Jesus if humans could make themselves perfect through their own good works and human effort. That's what Jesus was sent for - He took that pressure off of us.
But, didn't Jesus command us "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48 (NIV)
Yes. He did. But the word perfect here is the Greek word "teleios". It means, ‘full-grown, mature, complete, in good working order, sound, fully instructed, to reach your goal’. Over and over again, the Bible tells us to be “perfect”. But, it doesn’t mean that we are to be “sinless”.
Spiritual maturity is not a matter of age, appearance or achievement. Spiritual maturity is achieved through becoming more like Jesus Christ. Spiritual maturity is a moving target. No matter how much we grow in our faith, there is more to go. After salvation, every Christian begins the process of spiritual growth, with the intent being to become spiritually mature. The essence of spiritual maturity does not relate to knowledge you gain or skills you acquire. Our goal, as believers in Christ, is not to learn or to do things. Rather it is to become the kind of person whose character imitates God.
According to the Apostle Paul, it’s an ongoing process that will never end in this life. It's a daily, hourly, constant endeavor. Christian maturity requires a radical reordering of our priorities, changing over from pleasing self to pleasing God. The key is consistency, perseverance in doing those things we know will bring us closer to God. We won't always do it perfectly, in fact, I don't think we ever will do it perfectly - but as Paul said in Phillipians 3:12:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead...
My flesh has failed me so, so, so many times. My hands are filthy from all the dirt digging in my past. But if spiritual maturity is growth, the barometer has to be being able to forget the past and move forward into the promises for our future God has made to us. It has to be a deep desire to live like Jesus lived. Yes, we are going to fail, sin and mess up. But our brightest days are out in front of us. Press on. Not for perfection, but for progress.
The prize is eternity with Jesus.