Saturday, September 14, 2013

How To Be The Perfect Christian

How To Be The Perfect Christian.

Well, haven't we just got it all figured out!  If we greet the visitors, smile at the cashier, label people correctly, and categorize our friendships, are we behaving perfectly? If we judge family members for their lifestyle choices, claim what Jesus would do, elevate our own standards, and then beat ourselves up when we make mistakes, are we good?  We talk about scripture.  We praise Him with our hands raised just right.  We pray for the ambulance that drives by.  We overeat.  We go to church.  We are lazy.  We praise God.  We gossip and compete.  We compartmentalize our Christianity so that it is socially convenient, or worse, we just avoid being social because of our beliefs.  We roll our eyes.  We curse.  We have addictions.  We fail to love.  We yell at our kids.  We fight with our spouse.
Who me?
No.  Not you.
Me. You.  Him.  Her.  Them.  Us.

We all have our little skeletons. Odds are if you are real honest with yourself, the Holy Spirit will convict you through something you've read, or that thing that's unmentioned that you're already aware of about yourself.  Truth be told, Jesus is the standard.  We will never be truly close to Him until we realize how far we are from being Him.  But the beauty is that we have His grace to get through the other junk. He knows what we do when we're all by ourselves.  He knows our judgments.  He knows our gossip, our hate, our gluttony and our lies.  He knows every word we speak, thought we think, and every action we take.  So, why are we lying?

Do we really care THAT much about the opinions of our peers?  Are we even close enough to any peers to hold us accountable for what we're doing, saying, thinking, pretending? How many good friends do you have?  How many of them will tell you when you're acting like a jerk?  How many of those friends would you drop everything for?  How many times a day, a week, a month, do you do something selfless.  THAT is what being a Christian is about.  We don't do it (whatever "it" is) for the glory of the church, or our work, or our friends, or our family.  We're to do it because God calls us to do it.  We're to build up the people around us and do it with a happy heart, because it's what God wants us to do.  What "they" think is none of our business.  It only matters what He thinks.  So, if we find ourselves in a situation that calls for us to act, even if it's not received, or it's just plain ignored... God saw it.  If an apology falls on deaf ears, God heard it.  If a gentle word, or an act of service goes unnoticed, I would argue that it's better than if everyone knew you'd done it.  It only matters if you're pleasing God.

To be perfect, really, really perfect... you have to embrace that you're just not.  You're not perfect.  I'm not perfect.  We are so broken and wrong.  All day long every day, I make a myriad of little mistakes (on a good day).  On a bad day, I make a ton of big mistakes.  We all do.  The sooner that we recognize that and embrace it, the sooner we can ask God to forgive it.  We can listen to his prompts to ask others to forgive us.  We can forgive others.  Forgive others.  That's a hard one.  If we want to be perfectly imperfect, the key is forgiveness.  Isn't it?  Forgive each other.  More often than not, you have to do this over and over again.  Sometimes we forgive the same act seven hundred and seventy times.  We just do.  Because it is the only way to make it better.  We do it because it's what God does for us.

The challenge for me today is to be less perfect, and more perfectly imperfect.  We are called to be LIKE Jesus, not to be Jesus.  He is perfect.  We are so far from it.  We can't convict people around us.  We can't make them serve or attend or grow. We can show them what it looks like, and do it with a joyful spirit.  We can be the beacons of His light by serving, attending and growing.  He wants me to try really hard to be as close as I can be to Jesus.  The Holy Spirit will convict me of things, and if I listen, I'll correct them.  If He asks me to do something, I'll try and do it.  If someone hurts me, I will try and forgive them.  If I am hurtful, I will ask for forgiveness.  I will have people in my life who will hold me to a standard of goodness.  My peers are not my responsibility or "project", but they are watching the way I act and react.  If I do it in a way that glorifies God, then I can do nothing more.

The only unwaivering things of which I am certain are these:  We must read His word.  We must find answers in the only book that has them all.  We must learn about His life on Earth.  We cannot grow unless we do that.; Stretch.  Get uncomfortable for Christ.  Do what you would not normally do.  Get outside your box.  Listen to His prompts and act accordingly.  The key to growing is stretching.;  Serve His people.  We have to be willing to give selflessly of our time, assets and energy.  We have to go above and beyond the tithe on Sunday, which is crucial.  Making time for someone who needs a shoulder, feeding people who are hungry or tired, and keeping the world clean with our love and devotion, these are just a few ways to serve God.  Giving is the best way I've found to feel God.  Bless the people around you, and you will be blessed.;  We also must pray.  Pray in The Spirit.  Pray on our knees.  Pray on our faces, flat, laid out on the ground before the alter of our Lord.  Ask Him to direct us.  And then we listen for Him to speak to our hearts.

If we do all of this, will we have it together?  Will we enjoy our coffee more before service on Sunday?  That's not likely.  We'll still be late.  We'll still want everyone to see our new shoes.  We'll still miss the mark with the new guy on the back row.  We'll still think a smug thought about someone's decision in skirt length or lipstick.  BUT, we'll be forgiven.  And maybe, just maybe we'll be more forgiving.

Thank God He's perfect so that we don't have to be.

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