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Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins (New International Version, Eccl. 7.20) 1.
I’m so thankful for your curiosity and that you’ve decided to join me today! I hope you find the words in this series thought-provoking and/or inspiring. As you read, please know I was actively praying for you as I wrote it. Even though I don’t know you personally, the God of the universe does and He knows you are here. My prayer is for this information to hit your heart in a whole new way.
I reference the Bible frequently, one to be in compliance with Copyright when necessary, but two, because these are truths and promises from the Word of God to you – you can read them for yourself in greater context within the Bible if you would like to dig deeper. The Scriptures I’ve listed are not all-encompassing but its a place for you to begin.
So let’s get started.
I remember going through my childhood, teenage years, and even part of my early twenties wondering why so many people that profess to be Christians simply don’t seem to be leading a very godly life, or worse, act in a manner completely opposite to their faith while still claiming Christ as Lord. Of course, not all Christians present themselves this way, but I’ve met an awful lot that do.
I myself have been guilty of it.
As a young person searching for my purpose and the meaning of my life, I can say I absolutely had a skewed vision of who Christ is, what it meant to be a Christian and follow Christ, and really the whole idea of Christianity. Several current friends of mine, some Christian, some not, even say they were turned completely off by the actions of one or more Christians in their sphere of influence.
Some people were turned off because they felt judged. Some people were turned off because their family was too intense and “pushy” about God. Others had been hurt by a Christian friend. Sadly, sometimes it was because of racial tension, past or present. In some cases, discontent with Christianity started at a young age and has continued to this day with a string of negative interactions contributing to an overall viewpoint. Commonly, discontent with Christianity extended beyond personal social circles, and flowed into the media and society at large. And the list goes on.
Bottom line, all people have personal experiences under personal circumstances that influence their view towards Christ, Christianity, and religion in general….and how Christians conduct themselves has a huge impact on others’ beliefs and perspectives. Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons people are turned off to Christianity is this:
Someone you know who claims to be Christian acts and lives exactly like the rest of the world.
They praise on Sunday, but forget it on Monday. They claim Christ but you can see no evidence of it in their lives. You can tell no difference between you and them. They engage in the same sins and make the same mistakes. You expect more of them, holding them to a higher standard. In fact, because they profess their faith in Jesus, you feel they are hypocrites, talking the talk but not walking the walk.
So what’s the point?
You don’t want any part of that.
Unfortunately, friends, the gospel of Jesus has been misrepresented to you.
I have to say I understand because that was my story. I was confused and almost offended by the actions of the Christians around me. Yet, I was mysteriously drawn to keep searching and my heart was, thankfully, still open. I wandered aimlessly for a long time until I finally professed Jesus and was baptized at 21. I believed in Him and I loved Him. But even then, I didn’t know what it really meant to follow Christ or what it looked like in day-to-day life. I was emotionally and spiritually immature even though I called myself a Christian. I just went right on living, acting, and responding to the people and world around me like I always had.
Many Christians are, unbeknownst to them, stuck at this point in their faith. They believe but they are not actively and intentionally cultivating a personal relationship with the Lord. But let me be clear – this is not wrong. It is just a stage of the journey and, often, people become content living in this space and fail to progress forward.
However, it is an area where misunderstanding can often happen. And many times they actually desire a deeper relationship with God but they don’t know how to go about it or they are unwilling to face what it actually means to live life completely surrendered to Him, so they resign to live the same as they always have, figuring it is too hard and complicated.
I was in this stage for many years…until I wanted more.
It wasn’t until I did some major self-reflecting, and spent intentional time with God humbling myself and asking Him to change me for His purposes, that I started the process of maturing as a follower of Christ. God answered my prayers and provided me with more than a few opportunities to know Him and trust Him, putting my beliefs and convictions to the test. It took quite a while, but as my faith and love for God catapulted forward, I finally got it. I finally understood this journey I’m on and the person that God actually intends for me to be…and I got why so many Christians are misunderstood and why sometimes it comes across the wrong way.
Believe me when I say it took way more than a few trips to church for these revelations to dawn on me. I was heavy into small groups and bible studies at this point. Without digging in deep on a consistent basis, it is difficult for someone to know God for who He truly is, and therefore, it is difficult to represent Him properly in the world.
So, if you’ve had an experience or encounter that has turned you off to Christianity, I understand and I am so sorry. I’ve been there. I’m thankful that you’ve chosen to read this. Maybe you can’t shake the feeling that there is something out there greater than you. And you, like me, are seeking purpose and meaning. Maybe you’ve decided to explore Christianity one last time because you still feel it might offer you an answer…or hope. Maybe you came across this post by accident (or maybe not). Whatever the reason, before you discard Christianity because of an experience you had with a Christian, or because of preconceived notions, please join me in this series and consider a few truths about Christians.
As we move along, I ask you to keep a very important distinction in mind and read these posts through this filter:
Many, many Christians are not yet emotionally and spiritually mature in their faith or fully know and realize their true selves in Christ. It is a journey that takes time, perseverance, humility, and practice. The process of emotional and spiritual growth is slow and the mistakes are many. Chances are, the person or persons you are thinking of at this very moment that have offended you, at the time of the offense, were possibly in that exact place – emotionally and spiritually immature, unaware of it, and/or not sure how to advance beyond that point.
So, with that, let’s dive in.
Christians are imperfect just like you.
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way (New Living Translation, James 3.2) 2.
I used to do what I wanted with little regret. It was easy to push away the small voice inside me, telling me what I was doing was wrong. I just went right along with my feelings, thank you very much (feelings themselves are not wrong…God gave us feelings and they are good…but what we do with them is a whole different story). I’ve always been a kind person, and I knew early on there was something out there bigger than me, responsible for my existence, but I didn’t feel like I had to answer to it. I knew I wasn’t perfect, although at times I struggled with perfectionism. But I looked at the Christians around me and thought “They, of all people, should act perfectly, at least most of the time” or “I can’t believe they did that. They are supposed to be good Christians for heaven’s sakes!”
It was insanely unfair of me.
Christians are imperfect.
I didn’t allow them to be human.
Fast forward to now, and I know God calls me to be many things…but perfection is not one of them. He calls me daughter and wants me to look to Him for love, purpose, guidance, and so much more. He calls me to be filled with humility and grace 3. God draws me deeper into relationship with Him every day and promises to stand by me as I walk out my sanctification 4 – a lifelong process where God slowly refines you to look more like Christ and less like the world 5. It occurs in every believer and does not come to completion until the day we meet Jesus face to face 6…which means, here on earth, God doesn’t expect perfection.
So neither should anyone else expect perfection.
Actually, He expects messy lives and imperfection, which we as humans are insanely good at. However, thank goodness, He is patient and forgives as we stumble along, understanding our capacity towards sin. He places His Spirit within us the moment we accept Christ to guide us and spur us on towards our God-ordained purposes 7. And, boy, oh boy, am I thankful for that. I need Him every hour of every day because I cannot do this life alone.
I am painfully aware of my limitations.
So, only one perfect person remains – Jesus Himself 8.
(Now, please, if someone shows the following Scripture to you, do not be confused by it. Matthew 5:48 says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” 9. This is often misunderstood – we are incapable of perfection. In this verse, Jesus is addressing his followers and is simply saying “Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (The Message, Matt. 5.48)10. Even with this directive from the Lord Himself, His closest disciples still made mistakes.)
Friends, one of the most freeing parts of Christianity is to “come as you are”. Christ promises to meet you right where you’re at, with whatever hot mess you’re dragging behind you 11. He knows we could never be holy enough to meet Him where He is, so He comes to us, remains with us, uplifts us, and walks along our broken road beside us 12. I think back to my younger years and to those people who confused me and whom I judged…and now I feel a loving compassion for them, driven by God’s love for me. Compassion for the beautiful, tough, individual journeys they are on. The journey that you are on. Just like me.
So, if you are like I was, expecting Christians to be perfect, please know that God doesn’t hold us to that standard. Sin and imperfection are daily realities for all people, Christian or not. We don’t become perfect when we decide to follow God. We decide to follow God as broken, messed up people and He works to perfect and refine us along the way, finishing His work only on the other side of this life 13. He sent His Son for the imperfect, for those that have no way to erase their sins and make themselves righteous before Him 14.
That’s you and me, my friend.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (New International Version, Rom 3.23, emphasis mine) 15.
Otherwise, if we were perfect and blameless, able to dwell with a perfect God in eternity simply out of our own efforts, there would be no need for a Savior.
Until tomorrow, my friends….
With Love and In Christ,
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+7%3A20&version=NIV. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
- The Bible. New Living Translation. Bible Gateway/Tyndale House Foundation, 2015. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=james+3%3A2&version=NLT. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
- See Colossians 3:12.
- See Isaiah 41:10.
- See 1 Thessalonians 4.
- See Philippians 1:6.
- See Ezekiel 36:26-27
- See 1 John 3:5
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5%3A48&version=NIV. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
- Peterson, Eugene H. The Message. Bible Gateway, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5%3A48&version=MSG. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
- See Matthew 11:28-30.
- See Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthians 10:13; John 3:16-17; John 8:12; John 16:33.
- See Mark 2:17; Philippians 1:6.
- See Luke 5:32.
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+3%3A23&version=NIV. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.