What’s wrong with YOU?

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We live in a time of a strange collision of values. On one hand we teach tolerance, insisting that people be given freedom to be who they are, that we accept others. At the same time, there is unwillingness to allow for human imperfection.  A poor choice made by someone decades past gets dragged into view and, regardless of what he has done or who he has been for the last 20 years, the drumbeat of condemnation starts.

I know that I am not yet all that I will be, therefore, I believe in redemption!

If we search for perfection in ourselves or demand it from others, we create an impossible standard and become angry and discouraged. Why?  Because, we are all works in progress! We know that maturity results from a process called growth.  What a foolish Grandfather I would be if I demanded that little Gio (age 4) act like a self-sufficient adult.  If I did not understand his crying when he’s tired, or his failure to pick up after himself, criticizing him for ‘lack of maturity’ you would wonder about my grasp of reality. We realize that maturity arrives slowly, over time, as we instruct and train, while experience is reshaping behaviors.

In a similar way, Christians grow through life. I sometimes ask the Lord, “How long will it take for me to overcome this thing in my life?”  Sometimes I find myself wondering “Why is she still acting that way? When will they change?”  The pattern is growth, not perfection! Yes, I know that Jesus told us “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NIV)  His words are misunderstood to mean ‘flawless’ when it fact the intent is more about ‘becoming whole, reaching full maturity.’  The work in the original NT language (Greek) is telios.  The word has nothing to do with impeccable behavior. It is about the process that leads to completion.

God desires that we give ourselves to a life-long process of growth in the Spirit which only ends when we finally are ‘perfected,’ by our transition into eternal life. In 1 Corinthians 13 we read of the ongoing work which leads us to God’s Presence – “Now we know only a little, and even the gift of prophecy reveals little! But when the end comes, these special gifts will all disappear. It’s like this: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12, NLT)

What peace we can know if we patiently let the process be worked out – in others and in ourselves.  Ask any parent about the need for that kind of patience. Who doesn’t say, “Oh, I wish he would just grow up,” as she deals with the tantrums and messes of a toddler!  Who doesn’t occasionally tire of working out the implications of God’s salvation?

Mastering the lessons of the Spirit-filled life can be a tedious process involving instruction, experience, and discipline. Paul found himself frustrated and said, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” expressing exasperation with the sins that marked his daily experience. If we look at the work in progress too critically, demanding too much too soon, we will give up. James encourages us “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4, NKJV) The meaning comes through more clearly in The Message where we read, “don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

Are you searching for perfection?  Just make sure that what you’re aiming at is growth, not flawlessness.  God wants us to become mature Christians, people who can endure disappointment, who are developing the spiritual gifts He has placed in us, who are overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. He desires productive and effective people who are ‘in process’ to become mature; like Jesus before the world.

Remember, it is a process; in you and in others. While we are working it out, here’s good advice, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (times when we miss the bull’s eye on the target).” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV)

Here’s a word from the Word for your meditation. “But you, friends, are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers. Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ. Glory to the Master, now and forever!” (2 Peter 3:17-18, The Message)
_______
Reckless Love

(a beautiful celebration of God’s patient love)

Before I spoke a word You were singing over me
You have been so so good to me
Before I took a breath You breathed Your life in me
You have been so so kind to me

  (And) O the overwhelming never-ending reckless
Love of God
O it chases me down fights ’til I’m found
Leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it I don’t deserve it
Still You give Yourself away
O the overwhelming never-ending reckless
Love of God yeah

 When I was Your foe still Your love fought for me
You have been so so good to me
When I felt no worth You paid it all for me
You have been so so kind to me

 There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

 Caleb Culver | Cory Asbury | Ran Jackson© 2017 Richmond Park Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Watershed Publishing Group (Admin. by Watershed Music Group) Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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