IF NO ONE IS PERFECT, THEN WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
One of the most tragic arguments baffling the mind of the unbeliever is the idea that once a believer, a person is made perfect.
In a previous article, “Disbelief & Finding My Way Home: Part 2,” I explain what I believe Christianity is. To reiterate, here is how I define Christianity:
“—putting my relationship with Jesus first and seeking Him when I forget, humbly pursuing Him and coming back to Him when I lose track of that pursuit. Christians are not perfect people who have decided to stop pursuing a life of denial, nor do we think we’re perfect because of our decision to accept Jesus. Christians are sinners who recognize their sin and acknowledge their need for a Messiah.”
Faith does not make any person perfect. We’re all prone to flaws—before and after faith. If anything, a person’s faith gives him more reason to admit their imperfections, admitting their need for Christ as more important than anything. In other words, Christianity doesn’t perfect: it humbles. People arrive at the fallacy of Christian perfection from others who project their faith with an attitude of entitlement.
MORAL DOMINANCE & FIGHTING THE WRONG BATTLE
When a Christ-follower gets caught in the trap of believing faith-based morality is grounds for judging others, their humility has been compromised. The Christian, disparaging an atheist’s disbelief, is no more effective than an unbeliever condemning a Christian’s open-mindedness to faith. What needs to be noted here is how misplaced moral disparagement doesn’t allow any room for grace to move in the believer. A believer, capitalizing on the expression that faith is right and disbelief is wrong, does nothing short of arguing to the unbeliever that what is most important in Christianity is the pride in being right, rather than the compassionate depth of grace.
The abusive treatment of the believer towards the atheist is ultimately valid ground for the unbeliever to view faith as a waste of time. Understandably, the source of the believer’s faith would then appear founded in judgment, condemnation, and prideful morality, when what is most important should be how we love one another, despite our differences.
THE DILEMMA OF IDENTITY AND CHRISTIAN HYPOCRISY
Timothy Keller, in his book Making Sense Of God, writes:
“Theologian Miroslav Volf summarizes four ways that we can set and bolster our self-worth by excluding others. We can literally kill or drive the Other out of our living space. A more subtle and common way is exclusion by assimilation. We can demand that they conform completely to our own patterns and standards, not allowing them to express any difference at all. “We will refrain from vomiting you out… if you let us swallow you up.” A third form of exclusion could be called “dominance.” We let you live among us and maintain your identity, but only if you assume an inferior race—not getting certain jobs, attaining particular levels of pay, or living in certain neighborhoods. The fourth kind of exclusion is abandonment. That is, we exclude the Other by disdaining and ignoring them, taking no thought for their needs. The reason we indulge in these attitudes and practices is that by denouncing and blaming the other it gives us “the illusion of sinlessness and strength.”
When a Christian denounces the unbeliever for their doubt instead of loving them in their unbelief, they make the mistake of identifying with the egocentrism of pride rather than the selfless character of Christ. When a believer’s self-worth is not rooted in Christ, it is rooted in the ways of the world. How then can we be reborn if we still cling to the world? We cannot. We either surrender ourselves by picking up our cross and following Him, or we abandon our cross for someone else to bear.
CHRISTIAN FACADES AND PLURALISM
The choice we make in how seriously we take our faith, defines the example we are for the world. When a person claims to be a “Christian” while still clutching the ways of the world, the unbeliever witnesses hypocrisy and may assume this contradiction to be the face of all Christianity. While we do not carry the responsibility of every believer in this world, we do bear the witness of every unbeliever in this world. When we do not take our own faith seriously, we leave room for the unbeliever to view the Christian faith as fallible and indistinguishable from secularism.
CALLED FORWARD IN CHRIST
We are called to be sons and daughters of the living Christ. We cannot grow in Christ if we are climbing a ladder of egocentrism. The boastful soul does not become vanquished until we have received a heart of humility in God the Father. We receive this humility when we’ve had enough of ourselves. It took me into my twenties before I had had enough of the way I was living without faith in Christ.
Moving forward in faith means letting go of the self to make room for Christ. In gaining Jesus, we embrace a new perspective, healthier relationships, more fulfilling desires, and a deeper sense of purpose than we could have imagined was possible.
TAKEN OVER BY FAITH
Altruism merely becomes the floorboards of the character we are called into through Jesus. In directing others back to Him, we express to the world how belief in Christ needs to be. When we understand the love of God, we don’t miss our old selves, rather, we beg for more of His heart to flood our own—and this, truly, is the sweetest form of desperation in this life we will ever come face-to-face with.
CONNECT WITH MEIf you resonated with this article and would like to read more, please follow this blog, and please share this with anyone. You may also find me my Facebook page at Lance Price Blog, Twitter at LancePriceBlog, Instagram at lancepriceblog, Pinterest at LancePriceBlog, or on Tumblr at lancepriceblog. Feel free to leave any thoughts or feelings regarding this article in the comments below, or write me privately using my Contact page. May God bless you, readers! Opaque