Take a moment to imagine the perfect Christian. If you’ve read the Bible, maybe you picture the Proverbs 31 woman. Or the man described in the book of Titus. Whether or not you know what the Bible says about how Christians should act, what do you think of?
Somebody who prays and fasts regularly? Who reads her Bible when she wakes up and before she goes to sleep? Someone who works hard and stays positive regardless of her circumstances? How about someone who is the picture perfect mom and wife (like a June Cleaver)? And of course, someone who goes to church and is involved in all of its activities?
Maybe I’m exaggerating just a little bit, but when people talk about Christians, I often get the feeling that this is the type of Christian they’re picturing. This is the way Christians are supposed to act, and if they don’t, they’re all hypocrites.
Well then call me a hypocrite.
By all means, I have no right to call myself a Christian. I have lied, cheated on a test, stolen merchandise from a store (okay, I was 7 and I returned it…and paid for it…in pennies), had sex before marriage, drank alcohol underage, yelled at my kids, been cranky with my husband, failed to complete housework, yelled at my boss, disrespected my parents, and been depressed. And these are just scratching the surface.
Every day I wake up with the intention of doing what is right. But then LIFE HAPPENS. The kids aren’t getting ready for school like they’re supposed to, maybe we miss the bus. I might have a micro-tantrum at the gym when there are no treadmills open. Maybe I get stuck in traffic or in a long line at the grocery store and then am late getting the kids off the bus. And then as a human, my pent up frustration comes out all over my husband and my children, and I’m left feeling like I’ve failed yet another day as a mom, a wife, and a Christian. Whether everything goes wrong and I lash out at my family or I just tell a white lie, it’s all sin in the end, and it happens daily. We fall into the trap of temptation and sometimes don’t make it safely out the other side.
I can try to remedy this problem all I want. I can pray in the car on the way to the gym or even spend half an hour in prayer later in my day. I can read one devotion in the morning or three. I can repent for all my sins and then try harder than ever to control myself. I can even fast for 40 days if I want.
But no matter what I do, I’m still going to sin. The truth is that I will always sin in some way or another, because there has only ever been one perfect human being, and His name is Jesus Christ.
Because I am a Christian, I do try to be on my best behavior. But because I still fail daily, I love to remember Bible “heroes” who also failed. Like David, who was an adulterer and a murderer. Like Moses, who complained when God asked Him to do something. Like Gideon, who was a wimp at first but who was later transformed into a great leader. Regardless of the sins of these men, God loved them anyway. They confessed their sins and tried their best, and God found honor in that.
Then God sent His Son to be our sacrifice so that no amount of striving for perfection would ever be good enough.
Because while the rules are important (and if we love God we’ll do our best to follow them), they’re not the be all end all of Christianity. Because GRACE. I know I talk about grace a lot, but I can’t seem to shake how amazing this thing is. Grace. Because no amount of hard work or perfection will earn God’s love. Because He’s already given it in His son. We don’t have to be perfect, because God loves us right where we are.
Failure and all.