I’m not perfect.
No really, I’m not. I know some of you may be thinking one of the following:
*Oh, sure…you say that, but you don’t mean it.
*But you’re so nice! I’m pretty sure you’re close.
*You’re dang right woman, you drive me NUTS!!
Haha! Let me just say:
*I do mean it. Wholeheartedly. Though, I didn’t used to.
*Nice is really relative. I mean, don’t trust just “nice”. Serial killers are nice. No, I’m not a serial killer…at least not in the literal sense. Though, I get rather angry with people and Jesus says that makes me one.
*I drive myself nuts!!! You’re in good company!
But really. I’ve been thinking about this post for some time. Mulling over it, praying over it. I know that it will cause much concern…I may even catch some flack for it. Let me start out by saying, this post is primarily for my friends who aren’t Christians. Or who are put off by all of the “better- than-thou” people in your life. Maybe I’ve been one of them. Scratch that, I KNOW I have been one of them. For me, it’s time to come clean. It’s time for me to unveil what you’ve always known and what I’ve struggled to let you see. Here we go:
While I have learned the art of cover up well, let me assure you that I am just as big of a jerk as the next guy. I am impatient in any given moment, I am lazy, I am irritable, I have a tendency to yell at my kids from time to time, I have a tendency to think I’m smarter than others, for SURE funnier than others. I have a tendency to want what other people have- especially when it comes to my physical appearance. I don’t love others the way I should. In fact, I’ve become more and more aware about the fact that I love the people who love me. Everyone else can drive off a cliff for all I care. I think my soapboxes are 100 times more important than everyone else’s and I constantly want to be right. I will fight to the death for it. While I do home-school my daughter there are days I’d rather just gouge out my eyes and send her to school and have a break. Have a glass of wine for Pete’s sake! Oh, and then there’s that….woops. I love entertainment and there are days that I”d rather just plop down in front of my hulu and catch up on my shows than interact with my children. Or take a nap. Or all of those things combined. There are moments when I’d rather punch my husband in the neck than serve him in any way. I cling to my rights tightly and am constantly certain that I’m justified in doing so.
I could go on and on for days….and there is so much more here than I’m even willing to share. Perhaps because it’s embarrassing…or someone might send me to counseling. Or maybe it’s irrelevant. I dunno. My point is though, that while I am a Christian, I am just as sinful as the random guy on the street who doesn’t give two rips about God. I’ve just learned to hide it well….and I guess that’s the point of this post. I have been so convicted about my propensity to believe that if I could just be good enough in front of you, you’d see my goodness and want to be good too. Somehow, all of my ability to not look like the rest of the world would draw everyone to Jesus. I’ve come to learn it does just the opposite. It drives people further from the gospel (Jesus) and is a flat out turn off. And you know why?! Because it’s not REAL. It’s not attainable…and for goodness sake, it’s not helpful.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially with a Mormon running for president. The world has been asking, well, he’s a Christian TOO isn’t he? You know why you question that? It’s because Mormons are incredible moralistic people. They are nice. They do all the right things. They love what’s right and they hate what’s wrong…so what’s the difference? Exactly. The fact that the world doesn’t understand the difference between the Christian and a Mormon is the exact reason I’m writing this post. We all look like good people on the outside, surely we are on the same team! (Unfortunately, for some, I’m not so sure they aren’t on the same team.) Morals are good, don’t get me wrong….but Moralism is bad. Really bad. You know why? Because Moralism says “I can be good enough for God to accept me. I will work hard at obeying all the rules and looking neat and shiny on the outside. All of my children are obedient and we all have really white teeth and great smiles. God accepts my goodness.” That’s Moralism, and that’s what’s up with the Mormons. That’s not the gospel. Christians believe that the gospel says “I’m a WRETCH! There is NOTHING about me that is good. I can’t be good enough for God to accept me. BUT because of Jesus and his sacrifice on my behalf, I get to have His goodness. So when God looks at me, he sees Jesus’ goodness and accepts me because of that.”
Do you see the difference? So what’s the deal with all of the Christians? Well, I don’t know the deal with everyone of them….but I’ll tell you the deal with me. (Though, I’d say this is a big trend among us). We’ve bought a lie. We’ve bought into the lie that while Jesus saves me by his grace, I have to keep up my goodness for God to continue to love me and accept me. I have to keep up my goodness so that you will see the chasm of difference between you and I and like I said earlier, want to be like me. Here’s the point where my fellow Christian friends will probably get miffed with me. (I love you all anyway!! In fact it is my love for you that causes me to rip down the facade that I’ve been wearing! Maybe you’ll find the confidence to rip yours off too!) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t negate the change that Jesus has made in my life. I don’t in anyway disregard the great amazing work that God has done in my life. What I’m negating is my need to look perfect when indeed, that is not the truth. I’m saying, you tend to see Christians as hypocrites. You know what?! Many of us are. Because we’re afraid to be honest about our condition and our neediness for Jesus. Which, by the way, is the whole POINT of Christianity!
So what’s so great about being a Christian then, if you aren’t perfect? Here’s the thing. You and I are big fat sinners. There is absolutely NOTHING we can do in order to be good enough. The bible is clear that if we stumble in just one part of the law, we’re TOAST! Guilty of the whole thing. It’s all over folks, you fail. I fail. We aren’t perfect. I’m a wretch, you’re a wretch…all of humanity and Mother Teresa included. Brad and Angelina and all their little children too. That’s a problem. We can’t escape the fact that we aren’t perfect…and that we need help. But here comes the GOOD NEWS! Jesus was perfect. He is God and he came and lived a perfect sinless life so that he could be a perfect sacrifice and offering to God on our behalf. He is God’s wrath barer! So if we have faith and believe that Jesus says he is who he says he is, and trust in his righteousness to make us right with God, then boom. We can freely commune with God and live in his grace! We get to continue to live our lives resting in his grace. Unfortunately, the bad news is, if you don’t trust in Jesus’ righteousness, then you do have to bear God’s wrath on your own behalf. You don’t get to rest in Jesus when it comes to your badness. You don’t get to be a big fat failure like me and say “Oh! But I have Jesus!!” You know, when our lives are over, and we are standing before God, the only thing that Christians are going to have to show why it’s okay for us to enter into heaven is Jesus’ righteousness. We don’t get to pull out our list of “good deeds”. Because there aren’t enough good deeds to be good enough. So I ask, do you get to point to Jesus? Do you get to rest in Jesus? Why on earth wouldn’t you want to?!
So, is it true that God does change your life when you become a Christian? Yes. God changes our hearts and causes us to desire the things that he loves and causes us to hate the things that he hates. But it doesn’t have anything to do with us. It doesn’t have anything to do with us being good or getting better by our efforts. On a day to day basis, when I yell at my kids or get angry with someone or feel justified in my rightness, I get to say “THANK YOU Jesus for not getting angry and for not having to always be right or defend your honor. Thank you for being perfect in my place. Thank you for the fact that while I want so-and-so to take a long walk off a short pier, you are reminding me that you love perfectly. You did it. It’s been done. You love me right in the middle of my sinful mess of a heart. You have forgiven me and I am free. What’s more, I’m free to love. I’m free to love you in return and I’m free to love others in response to how I’ve been loved.”
So that’s it? That’s all Christians have is Jesus? Yep. That’s it.
So why am I saying this now? Why am I blowing the big secret? Well, for one thing, I’m tired. I’m tired of the pretending. It’s exhausting trying to tread water and look better than I am. I’m seriously messed up and I’m seriously okay with that. I’ve learned that because my identity is hidden in Christ, and not man’s approval of me, then I have nothing to lose by telling you this. However, it has come to my attention that you just might have everything to lose if I don’t tell you the truth. I wanted to show you that you don’t have to be good like me. Because I’m not good. Neither are you. However Jesus is good. So don’t trust in my niceness or my goodness. There isn’t much there anyways, and what is there isn’t by my own doing. It’s all by God’s doing. It’s all Jesus. Don’t trust in your goodness either. Trust in Jesus.