Today I saw what seems to be a popular bumper sticker among some Christians it reads “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven”. I began to think a moment and while this is true, Christianity should never be taken for granted or mistaken for a get out of jail free card. Unfortunately, it is Christians that are the excuse many non-Christians use for the reason they do not and will not follow Christ. It is the unbeliever’s that set the bar for Christians at the position of perfection. Nothing less will do for the unbeliever that explains why when a Christian stumbles the unbeliever is the first to yell “Hypocrite” and with an even louder voice denounce Christianity altogether.
But this represents an inaccurate understanding of what it means to live the Christian life. Authentic Christians make the decision to follow Christ, to turn away from their willful disobedience and rebellion against God, and to accept Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for their sins. In the Bible, the description used for someone who’s accepted God’s grace is “in Christ.” That phrase is used numerous time in the New Testament. It refers to somebody who has found salvation through the grace of God. Those who follow Jesus have accepted God’s leadership in their lives and begun the journey of walking under His management. But have not arrived at a sinless state nor will they ever in this life.
The true hypocrite, is not one who falls short of expectations, but one who consciously and knowingly hides in the shadows of their corruption. If you were to follow me for a day, even an hour I am almost certain to disappoint you. In my life, there are a lot of things I’ve done wrong that disqualify me to go to Heaven. There are sins I’ve committed, thoughts and actions that have been not only hurtful to me but also to my relationships. There are things that I’m ashamed of, things that have left me bruised and broken; there are times I just flat out fail. For some people, bad language may take years to weed out. But even more difficult to extract is the pride that drives judgmental Christians to mock the Spirit’s work in those seeking their Creator. That sin alone could take decades to discover. Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing. Just look at the thugs God works with throughout the Bible. I know I remain a sinner albeit saved by Grace I still struggle daily with sin in this broken world, and the unfortunate fact is just like you reading this blog sometimes I lose a struggle or two.
However, the good news is authentic Christianity does not demand or require perfection, rather it needs faith to depend on God’s Grace. When someone is in Christ, you will still see their imperfections because they will still mess up, they will continue to stumble, and even fall short sometimes. However, when God looks at them with His eyes of Grace, He only sees the perfection of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that Jesus is the real issue even for those who are yet to realize that fact, and not the imperfections of those who love and follow Him.
The free gift of God’s Grace through faith is only available to us because of the hefty price Jesus paid. So let us not “… treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:21 NLT).