oh your just perfect the way you are

July 16, 2015

sugar coating

Excellence is a virtue when it has God’s glory and our neighbor’s good in view. Yet, as with all virtues, self-love turns this noble drive into a vice. It can take many forms. One of them is perfectionism.

In the case of aspiring perfectionists, the craving for approval can paralyze them from receiving God’s mercy and serving their neighbors in simple — and imperfect — ways. Eventually, many in this class acknowledge defeat and curl up inside themselves. “I’ll never do that again!” they say to themselves. The desire to please others — to derive their identity from the words of someone other than God — has a debilitating effect on their hearts. Instead of living from God’s justification of the ungodly in Christ, they live for the approval and applause of other sinners.

 

When that approval is lacking, they close up, pull away, and retreat from the world — and perhaps even God. The fear of failing, the fear of rejection, and the desire to avoid pain keep them from pursuing excellence in a healthy way that honors God. In the case of deluded perfectionists, success has the opposite effect: to intoxicate them with the illusion of self-justification. It can become a terrible drug. Rather than placing our trust in God, we learn to trust in our own piety and devotion. Our tireless service is driven more by a desire for self-justification and self-acclaim than by being secure in Christ enough to tend now to the actual needs of others.

This is one of the greatest dangers in the church today, the idea that we are somehow perfect, mature, no need to be taught or discipled, ‘we arrived’.

One only has to read the book of Hebrews and the 5 warning verses to realize there is a real danger to the idea of Christian perfection. I’m debating whether to cover in detail the 5 warning verses because even writers in the same theological gene pool tend to disagree on interpretation. And after 40 years of teaching and preaching the answer I give is ‘depends’ on the time of day and the mood I’m in.

Yes we are to strive to be all we can in Christ, but we must always acknowledge our utter dependency on him.

Our perfectionism, however, makes others and their needs simply an instrument for loving and serving ourselves. We might have a so-called “messiah” complex, and this insatiable need within us drives us to do things that will make us well-eulogized in the end. We want to have “an excellent life” inscribed on our tombstone and prove that we are people of worth and value.

If we are going to build and strengthen the community of faith (the body of Christ) we must always be on guard for the danger of believing we are a force within ourselves or that we’ve been “specially” chosen above a brother or sister in the body.

Please remember Susan H. she is suffering severely from vertigo, if you’ve never had a bout with this you have no idea how debilitating it is. It once made my wife bedridden for 18 months.

 

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