Friday, May 15, 2015

Christ and Perfection

When I read the Bible, I sometimes get frustrated at the Israelites and the Apostles. I mean, the Israelites walked away from God over and over again. Throughout their long history, they get close to God, receive blessings, forget God, go into slavery, remember God, beseech Him to rescue them, are rescued, and the cycle begins again. Over and over this happens. And I think, “Come on, Israelites. Haven't you read your own history? Look at the pattern!” It's easy for me to think this because I'm reading what they lived. They lived it slow and messy, but I read it quick and tidy-- in a book.

The Apostles walked with God-on-Earth. Jesus, the Lord Incarnate. They admire him and love him and are in awe of him... and they think he is here to set the Romans straight, put them in their place. One more rescue from the God who is there. Jesus continually tells them they are on the wrong track, but they never get it until they see him rise from the dead. It takes him dying himself-- destroying their dreams of earthly power-- for them to realize something bigger is at work here.

Perhaps when Peter told the people, “You have with wicked hands crucified the Christ,” he was also thinking a little of himself-- how his expectations of Jesus had been so low. He wanted earthly justice, but Christ brought love. After he betrayed the Lord, watched him killed and saw him rise, he finally understood Jesus's perspective. This world is not our home. Then Peter stood fearless and meek-- can we be both?-- although persecuted and eventually killed by his earthly enemies. Because it's not about earthly control. It's about God's love.

This life's problems can seem so big. We don't have God's perspective. If there's one thing I've seen in the Bible, it's that life is complicated and messy and requires a God to put in order. Most of the time, that order is not revealed until later, that's why He says to trust Him and do good. As best you can, do good and love and live at peace with others, even if it seems like it won't “work”. What you think is the solution may not be what God intends at all. His ways are not our ways. They sure aren't. I would totally have gone after the Romans. But that was the wrong thing.

Remember this when you mess up. God doesn't expect us to live to perfection. That's what he was showing us with the Israelites-- he gave an entire nation so many opportunities to get things right, and they went in circles. None of us are any better. None of us. Some sin one way, and some another. If you think you are doing a pretty good job staying within the lines, be wary. The law is a continuum with sin on one side, and sin on the other, and a teeny little sweet spot of perfection in the center. And that's why Christ came. Christ is our perfection. We love him, and good comes of it. But it's all Him. Remember.