Saturday, July 09, 2005

Called to be More

“Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven,” reads a popular bumper sticker. What a travesty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to summarize it this way! I think the bumper sticker is correct, but it goes about it all the wrong way. Take it from someone who is good at saying the right things the wrong way.

The truth of the statement is solid. Christians do not rely on achieving perfection but rather on the grace and mercy of God. We do not live by a list of do’s and don’ts, but by knowing from day to day that God has forgiven the sins of the past, and that God offers his people the power to resist and overcome temptation.

Sometimes we accept this power given by God, we resist temptation, and we do not sin. Sometimes we ignore the power and free gift of God and give in to the fleeting pleasure of sin.
Unfortunately the phrase sticker too often becomes a cop-out for Christians to ignore the power God offers us to turn our backs on behaviors we know we ought not be involved in. Even if we are not perfect yet, that is the direction God is calling us (Matthew 5:48).

John Wesley gave us a phrase that captures the way Christians ought to look at perfection. “Are you going on to perfection?” he would ask disciples. If we are not moving toward perfection; if we are not living more Christ-like lives now than last year, then we are forsaking the power of God.

The more we tell ourselves that we are not perfect, the more convinced we will be that we will not be, either. On the other hand, the more we remind ourselves and one another of the power and victory over sin that God has for us, the more joyful we will find our lives. God calls us to be more than we were when He found us!

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