True Perfection

Perfection. What a heavy word. It is something I am constantly at war with. A daunting standard that always leaves me wanting more and never satisfied. This DEVO is going to be a very honest one. I hope you continue to read as I take you through my process of understanding what true perfection is.

Take a minute and write out what the word perfection means to you. Let the pen take your thoughts as you write what the word perfection communicates to you… not what you think the dictionary definition is.

This is what my pen wrote:

Perfection is having no faults, being flawless and lacking nothing. Perfection is something that is attained by working hard but once attained presents itself as a thing of ease. Perfection means you are needing nothing. Perfection is desirable, something you should aim for, it is attainable. There are no mistakes within perfection. It is good. It has everything. Perfection makes you smile.

Wow! Rereading my words, I can easily spot so much truth and so many lies I am believing. Of course, every word needs context and this is exactly how we can determine what is good and what is evil in the context of perfection.

For example, if my definition described God it would cause me to rejoice! The truth is that God has not only attained perfection, but he is perfection. He lacks nothing, is completely flawless and is extremely desirable and he makes me smile. But, If I were to use that definition to describe me, I instantly feel like a failure. The lie that perfection is attainable and is something I should work towards will always make me feel like I never measure up. If I believe this lie, I will forever live in shame of who I am not.

Today perfection is presented as attained ease. Billboards and posters of a beautiful women who has everything and is content within that snapshot, makes it look like it just happened naturally for her. The lie of perfection communicates that once you are perfect, lacking nothing, flawless, then you will have ease, comfort, rest, joy and contentment in your life. Many Christians today still live in this mindset (including myself). We have to be perfect because we are Christians. We have to be perfect so we can share our perfect God with others… we have to be the perfect reflection of Jesus here on earth. Guys. That is so exhausting! Welcome to what I call the modern day law.  Every Christian has their own set of 10 commandments constantly running through their head. Well guess what? That running list of shoulds, have tos, musts, and guilt only brings awareness to your never ending imperfection. Frankly, I am so tired of it! Tired of telling people to stop shaming themselves! Tired of telling myself to stop.

“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses (Ten Commandments)? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the spirit why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3:2-3.

Is this a question you need to reflect on? Take a minute and write down your human efforts that you believe make you better/perfect.

What my pen wrote (I’m telling you this pen has a mind of its own):

  • be happy all the time - what do you have to complain about

  • Make sure you are nice to everyone

  • Work hard to get what you want - good things comes to those who hustle!

  • Take care of other people over yourself

  • Go to church, don’t swear, cover your body, don’t drink too much, don’t date the wrong guy, wait for the right guy, don’t sleep around

  • Sacrifice your life for Jesus - he did it for you

  • Be perfect. Don’t make mistakes or you are unworthy of God’s love

That’s my real list. I hope it encourages you to write your real list too.

This narrative is running through my head. You are too much, you are not enough, you have a successful career but it’s not for Jesus, why are you always complaining, don’t give that guy the time of day, hide your mistakes so people will think you are good enough to offer Christian Counselling, REPEAT. A broken record that will simply not break! my prayer: Lord, I want to be good enough for you, I want to be perfect for you, I want you to be proud of me… help.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul used the Greek word epiteléō which is translated into perfect. It means to accomplish, complete, finish. What Paul is asking the Galatians (and you) is “are you trying to accomplish/complete/finish what God started in you?” “Are you in your own human effort and good deeds making yourself perfect and presentable to God by what you have done and can do to satisfy Him?” “Are you now placing a standard or law on yourself that is no longer applicable since God has given you the Holy Spirit (whose purpose is to guide you)?”

Are you trying to be perfect for God?

If you answered yes (like me), you are under the modern day law. Don’t worry - you are not alone - the Galatians are right there with you… oh foolish Galatians!

Paul wrote this to the church of Galatia who had been persuaded by false teachers that their faith in Christ is not enough. The Galatians started to believe that they needed to continue to uphold the law (aka The 361 laws summed up in the 10 commandments) alongside their faith in Jesus. The law required human effort to make themselves right with God. Humans were required to live strictly by the instruction of the law and when they failed they were required to present sacrifices and offerings that cost them their best livestock. The sacrifice and offering would deem them flawless by clearing them of their guilt before God.

Their human effort and their sacrifices made them perfect before God… for a moment. The author of Hebrews explains “For the old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies – physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.”(Hebrews 9:10) “The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would’ve been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1b-4) “For God‘s will is for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time (Hebrews 10:10) “For by that offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

Our human efforts, offerings, and sacrifices (our modern day law) serves only to remind us of our sin, of our imperfection, of us not living up to standard. It makes us feel guilt and shame and believe we are failures. Our personal modern day law, which we pray will make us good before God, does the exact opposite and reverses it’s shame on us. YET, Jesus’s offering made us perfect. Before God we are accomplished, complete, and finished by HIS offering, by HIS work, by HIS sacrifice. No more shoulds, shouldn’t, have tos or musts. Just one BIG TRUTH of you are perfect. You are flawless, lacking nothing, good and smiling.

So the truth of what my pen wrote in the context of you and God, is that God is perfect and he has made you and me perfect through faith in Jesus Christ. FOREVER. Mistakes, temptations, failures, sin, lies and deception will come and go and you will be deemed forever perfect by God himself. He’s just that good to you! “Even before he made the world God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

I now get to change my prayer from “Lord help me be perfect for you” to :

“Lord, I need a revelation of perfection. Help me know and understand how you are perfect and how you have made me perfect. Help this truth resonate in the depths of my soul and help me believe it is true. Thank you for doing this for me not out of obligation, or because you had to, but because you wanted to and it brought you great pleasure. Help me experience your kindness, love, mercy and grace as your perfection becomes my reality.”

In truth and love,