Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Good, The Bad, The Perfect?

per·fect [adj., n. pur-fikt; v. per-fekt]
excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement; exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose; entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings; accurate, exact, or correct in every detail; thorough; complete; pure or unmixed; absolute; accomplished; proficient.

Matthew 5:48 (KJV)
" ...You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

These are the words of Jesus of Nazareth. What do you think he meant? I wonder if this is the very verse that anyone with a shred of Bible knowledge uses to assess and then criticize Christians? Further ... I believe the biggest lie Satan ever told the human race was that you had to be perfect before you could come to Jesus. The second biggest lie was that you had to remain that way afterwards -- that you could never again make another mistake. Well guess what ...

I am a born-again, Bible-believing, word-of-God-quoting CHRISTIAN, yet on a regular basis I neglect to make time for Bible study and prayer, I get angry at other drivers, I get frustrated with my husband and child, I have disagreements with others, I lose my temper, I raise my voice, I update my Facebook status while I am at work ... I could go on. I am not perfect, but rather, I am in process -- a project if you will.

Becoming Christian doesn't mean that you become perfect! It doesn't even mean that you become sinless. It means that you have accepted the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as truth, that you believe his claim to be the Christ and in doing so you become BLAMELESS. I can't stand that people believe this ridiculous notion that because I have faith I am not supposed to have faults! HELLO! My doctrine maybe alien to you, but I am still human!

I have made many mistakes since coming to Christ. I can think of so many situations that I should've handled better. When I first got saved, I was very zealous about my beliefs. I judged and condemned other people because of their choices and way of life; I made my opinions known and called it "spiritual boldness." As I have grown and matured in the Lord I have learned that my over enthusiasm -- though well-meaning -- only deterred people I loved from Jesus AND from me. I understand now that I made people feel like they were being preached at -- they were!

There have been other mistakes that I regret making since coming to know the Lord: I've had a couple of drinking and eating binges, I've had sex outside of marriage, I've lost my temper and swore at family; I got into a literal fight with my brother ... I could go on here too. But worse, I've hidden this behavior from other Christians who love me and who could've helped me. (Thank you Lord, that I have since gotten back on track, back on the path of life. Help me Lord to never stray again!)

So what am I saying? Well, hang in there with me because I do have a point.

Recently, I have had some family members "un-friend" me on Facebook; not friends -- blood family. The reason: because they are tired of reading the "sermons" I post on FB. They are comfortable with where they are in their lives and they don't want anybody preaching at them. I must admit this hurt me deeply. For one, I rarely get the chance to post my latest "status" much less a sermon. I guess whatever Christian-related thing (AKA: sermon) I posted that day must've really gotten to one of them. Another reason I am so hurt is because one of those family members is my brother, and the reason he un-friended me was because another person was offended at what I posted. No really. That's it!

Even more recently, my brother and I got into a major argument in which he accused me of charging others with being imperfect. Funny thing, I've gone back through the history of my FB "wall" and I cannot find the accusation in which he is referring to. He also couldn't pinpoint an exact instance in which he overheard or knew of those words to come out of my mouth.

This is what I can't stand ... people never allow you to change! All my brother can remember is that I used to be TOO preachy to be around and because of that he wants nothing to do with me now. It's too bad he doesn't remember how bad I used to be BEFORE Jesus! It's too bad he is so blinded by the lies of the enemy that he can't remember what God brought me out of. Too bad he can't seem to recall how many drugs I used to do, how many times I came close to dying by overdose or how I used to be in an abusive relationship because I believed I couldn't get better. He even helped me pack my stuff up and leave that guy, but still yet ... he can't remember that! All he can see is my faults, and since I have faults I must not really be a Christian. Because people are offended at my words -- Jesus' words -- I must not be a Christian. Christians don't offend people. They don't make people uncomfortable about the sin they are living in. They are all about love and speak pleasing words. They aren't supposed to post things on their FB pages that provoke the unbeliever to think about the final destination of their soul. And most importantly ... Christians are perfect in word and deed. They don't have faults. So let's see: If I claim to be a Christian yet have all these faults I must be a hypocrite.

Well there it is folks, I'm a hypocrite because I am not perfect. I wasn't perfect before I came to Jesus and I'm not perfect now so what's the point of Christianity?

I'll tell you.

First starting with the verse above that begins this blog, you have to take into account the full chapter or passage of the verse. Matthew 5 is known as the Sermon on the Mount or The Beatitudes. In it Jesus is teaching to the multitudes of the law of God. Because as he said, He did "not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it." (Matthew 5:17) In the last passage of this chapter, verses 43-48, he is teaching his followers that they must love their enemies. He goes on to say (my paraphrase) that God sends rain (what Jews considered a sign of favor from God) to fall on the good and the bad -- that God is a just and fair god and that his followers must be just and fair in their treatment of others. The word Jesus uses for "perfect," in the Greek means "morally complete or of integrity." He wasn't saying that we are to be without fault, but that we are to be morally just and to hold integrity in high esteem just as God in heaven does.

And as long as I'm sharing the words of Jesus, here are a few others:

Mark 2:16-18
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners."

See ... Christianity is for the imperfect, for the hypocrite, for the sick, for the hurting, for the drug addict, the thief, the prisoner, murder, rapist, the foul-mouthed Bubba, the liar, the prostitute, the misfit, the outcast ... the imperfect! That's the point of Christianity. That it's for all who will believe and receive it, and who are willing to take up their cross and walk in repentance -- daily repentance! That's why it's for me! I need that kind of grace daily!

And the Christian Church -- the Body of Christ -- is meant to be a hospital -- a refuge -- for those people. It's our job to take in those named above and nurse them (disciple them) back to health. Sometimes healing is immediate and sometimes it's a process, but we are to love and not to judge.

And I know in my heart that I haven't judged any of these people who choose to separate themselves from me. I have made the truths of Christ available to them, but never judged. I have peace in my heart about that, even though my heart is hurting. I am still praying for the lost in my family, especially for these who have hurt me. I am praying for their revelation that the only true perfect one died in their stead and is soon to return to take us home whether the rest of the world believes it or not. Not believing it doesn't make it any less true. And whether or not the world likes it, because of the cross I am perfect and justified in the eyes of my God.

But the bottom line is this: The end is near, and I just want my family to go with God. And sadly, these recent events have taught me that there are some people in my life that I am just going to have to learn to love from a distance -- temporarily I pray! Please pray for my brother and for the rest of my family.