Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Perfect Life

As Job goes back and forth with his friends and with God, a small little sentence creeps in that asks an extremely valuable question - if I were perfect, would that be of any benefit to God?

The question is valuable precisely because so many of us would very quickly say, "Well, of course." But Job implies that the real answer is, "no."

For us, we've gotten the idea that the goal of the Christian life is, "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." And yet, we read through the Bible and find not one perfect man who is not Jesus; we find not a single person who is praised for being perfect and getting everything right. Even we don't praise Jesus, the perfect man, for being perfect; that's not what we love about Him. 

Yet, we continue to believe that what God desires from us, and what we should desire from ourselves, is to be perfect. To get everything right. To never fail, never falter, never sin. To not need God's forgiveness or redemption.

We live as though the ultimate goal of the Christian faith is to have no need of Jesus at all. 

When you put it that way, it sounds sort of silly, doesn't it? God sent His perfect Son, His one and only Son, to die for the redemption of our sins and create a way for us to live in perfect intimacy with Him for eternity...and then desires from us that we don't need His greatest sacrifice. Desires from us that it would all be in vain. Totally pointless. Useless. Unnecessary. 

The greatest victory of the Christian faith is not a perfect life; it's a humble spirit. It's a spirit that readily confesses not for the sake of admitting how much we get it wrong, but for the sake of demonstrating how much we need God. And how amazingly present He is for His children. 

God's greatest glory is in the way that we depend upon Him. Period. And we will only ever depend upon a God we need.

Job knew that if he were perfect, there would never be a test of his faith. There would never be a chance for him to show how much he loves and depends upon the Lord because he would never be in need of Him. It is of no benefit to God for Job to be perfect, but it is for God's glory if he is not, for then the world can see how the man turns to the Lord in his time of desperate need.

Paul says something similar - that God's glory is revealed in our sin. His grace, mercy, and deep love for us is shown best when we don't live up to it. When we falter and fumble. When we're not perfect. 

And then Paul goes one step further, knowing how the human mind thinks. He says, "Should we then go on sinning, just so that God's grace can shine through all the better? By no means!" In other words, of course not. We shouldn't set out to intentionally sin just to demonstrate God's glory; willful sin is rebellion, not faith. 

We'll sin plenty without intending to, anyway. We do not need any help in the "fallen short" department. Our flesh takes pretty good care of that itself. 

But we do need to rethink how we think about it. Because it's too easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking that what God desires from us is our perfection, and that's just not the case. What God requires from us, what has always been counted to our righteousness, what has always been our witness to the world...is our faith.

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