Thursday, October 31, 2013

Perfection...or Joy?

I heard someone ask recently how we can be joyful when we keep messing up, when we keep sinning...when we struggle with perfectionism.

What an astute question!

Does joy depend on our ability to do things perfectly?  And if we could do that...would it truly give us joy?

Why do we make perfection a goal?  I can't speak for others, but in myself, I think one root is pride. Sometimes I don't even realize perfection is a goal of mine, until I experience that disappointment of sin or failure again. Then I see that expectation I had to be perfect. 

Another root is self-reliance. As a young Christian, I can remember thinking that one day I wouldn't mess up so much--maybe not even at all.  Although I can recognize the error in my thoughts now, I didn't see it then--but what I was really thinking was that one day I really wouldn't need Jesus. It sounds ludicrous to say such a thing! But that was the logical end of my train of thought.

I think part of the problem is that we don't fully embrace what we have in Christ. I used to come to the Lord's table with shame and guilt...I messed up again...repent, decide to do better.  I didn't come to commune with Christ (isn't that ironic--we call it communion but my focus was on me!).  I didn't come for my soul to be fed and nourished and strengthened. I didn't experience Christ's joy--the joy of the Lord is my strength! I didn't experience him rejoicing over me with singing. I didn't savor his undying love for me or revel in his boundless grace and mercy. 

I had moments of doing these things in my daily walk, but when I messed up, I didn't experience the fullness Christ has for us. I took my sin to the foot of the cross, and then I picked up the burden of perfecting myself as I left--instead of learning to live each moment in complete reliance on God, instead of digging deeper into his grace and love, instead of fully embracing how wide and deep and long and high and immeasurable his love and grace and mercy are.  I think we undervalue and underestimate what Christ has done, is doing, and will do in our lives in giving himself up for us and in living in us.

Our joy isn't in what we can do.  It's in our union with Christ. We "rejoice in the Lord," not in ourselves. In his glory, in his presence, with thanksgiving, with overwhelming awe, in his sovereignty, in his wisdom, in his power, in his love, in his mercy, in his forgiveness.

So when my eyes are on myself, on how I've sinned, how I've messed up...I take it to the Lord, I repent...but then I revel in Him. 

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