There is a popular saying among American Christians: Not perfect, just forgiven. I have never found this message to be very inspiring or helpful. I think it cheapens the Gospel. It also allows for some very egregious behavior that Christians want to excuse because “I am not perfect, just forgiven.” When St. Paul talked about followers of Jesus being imperfect this is what he had in mind:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10).
To be imperfect is to recognize that if we are at all able to withstand the struggles of every day at all it is because of God’s power in us. Imperfection is not an occasion for sinful behavior; imperfection is an opportunity for God’s power to explode through us. One of the ways we ensure that we do not let our imperfection reign over us is to understand where the imperfection comes from: our ego. One way to look at ego is think of it as Edging God Out. The only way to deal with your ego is to kill it. This why St. Paul said we had to bear in ourselves the death of Jesus. With the death of our ego comes the opportunity for the beauty of Spirit of Jesus to live through us.
Instead of “Not perfect, just forgiven,” followers of Jesus need to live and proclaim this message: Dying to live!
Ronald Friesen © 2015