We live in the age of mediocrity. No longer are there absolutes, there are only opinions. No longer are there standards, there are individual convictions. Few have truly decided to understand that there are no shades of gray. In the perfect brightness of the Lord our God there is black and light. Nowhere in the Bible does it speak of reproving the works of grayness and nowhere does it mention living in the gray.
You bring this to the attention of believers today and they may become uncomfortable. They may grow angry and may even retort with a resounding “Nobody’s perfect.” Christians today have even gone as far as to hold this as a banner in their (what they think to be) crusade of love. Accepting of everyone’s faults as long as they come to a meeting during the week. Confusing grace with acceptance and judgment with condemnation. In effect, sitting back, while things continue to unravel around the edges of the tapestry of the home assembly. As long as these Christians turn their eyes away from the problem areas—and instead focus on loads of work to keep busy—the edges of the tapestry will continue to fray.
Look about you and see the need to turn our eyes away from ourselves and our lives and back to our Lord God. How can we do this if we continue to live lives of mediocrity and to propagate the world’s slogan of “nobody’s perfect.”
Somebody IS Perfect.
It is of course, a given point that the Lord is perfect in every way. Why would we worship an imperfect god? What would be the point? People who use the term “nobody’s perfect” are stating the world’s lie. Many verses in the Bible go over the Lord God’s ultimate goodness (Deut 23:5; Eph 2:8), boundless love (1 John 3:1; John 3:16), complete perfection (Matt 5:48; Ps 18:30), righteous anger (Deut 29:23; Ps 69:24), perfect will (Rom 12:2), awesome strength (Exod 15:2), immense knowledge (Ps 94:11; Luke 16:15), perfect gifts (James 1:17), perfect work (Heb 9), perfect priesthood (Heb 9), and perfect sacrifice (Heb 9). Even His creations, when first made, were all to be found good by the Lord God himself (Gen 1).
In this same vein, we would also have to mention our Lord Jesus Christ who was the perfect man, the perfect son, the perfect sacrifice, the perfect Lamb of God, the executor of a perfect work, the fulfiller of a perfect redemption, the head of a perfect priesthood, the chief cornerstone, the firstborn of all creation (speaking of his preeminence), the applier of a perfect obedience, the head of a perfect ministry, and the only Savior.
The Spirit can also be mentioned to have a work of perfecting, a work that is perfect in that it is completed on the day of Christ Jesus.
If the Author and Finisher of our faith can say “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) we must understand it to say that we are called to a higher, for the momentary lack of a better word, standard. To argue such nonsense with the lackadaisical and non-committal answer of “nobody’s perfect” is the epitome of mediocrity, and in effect, the world’s biggest cop-out. We as Christians should know better. This is the attitude that the world will fully adopt at the end-times.
Some may now pose an argument of the following words: “You say then that we can be made perfect in the flesh? That perfection can be achieved in the now?”
To which I answer, of course not. I am certainly not as foolish to believe that having begun in the spirit we will now be made perfect in the flesh (Gal 3:3). I know that there is no way that we as feeble human beings in this life can achieve perfection…but it is our goal. The Lord says to “Be perfect”. He never says, “Try to be perfect.” or “Nobody’s perfect, but try to be.” He says, in essence “Do this.”
This is like (as I said above) a standard, but more akin to a goal. Running the race (1 Cor 9:24-26) as if to attain the gold. If we note that section in Corinthians, we see that it is a comparison statement. Running like it’s a race as if to attain the prize. Comparing how all these people run with the knowledge that only one can be the winner. There is only one winner in the Christian life and that is Christ himself. This passage addresses the fact that we are striving and running and disciplining ourselves in this holy race. What Olympiad would say, “Well, we all cross the finish line eventually.” Some run faster than others, that’s okay…that’s their thing. I’ll run my pace and I’ll get there eventually. Let’s look at the example of Michael Johnson, who runs swiftly towards the gold!
“Oh,” some may argue “But now you are putting a standard for our lives. In effect, a law by which we must live? A law of perfection?”
God forbid. This calling to perfection is not a set of rules that we must follow to be perfect, nor is it a set of boundaries which we must constantly consider. We note that the Law was only a schoolteacher (Gal 3:25). Some have actually misconstrued the Law and have applied it to believers in such a manner by saying, “the law doesn’t save us, but it is a set of moral standards that define the boundary.”
Oh limited Christian and you of little faith. Have you no understanding? Yes, we would not have known murder was wrong if it wasn’t imprinted in our hearts “Thou shalt not commit murder.” (After all, we are not Jews and we were not given a set of written laws as the Jews but laws imprinted in our hearts by the Lord himself Rom 2:15) We would not have known that murder was punishable by death if not for this moral law…but that was before we were saved.
We are no longer bound by the Law of Moses, which has restrictions and boundaries, rules by which to govern ourselves. We have the Freedom of Love offered by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. We are free to love. We can do much more than the law could even have imagined and we will steer away from much more than it has explained.
The law showed us our imperfection and showed us where we were dead.
Jesus Christ showed us his perfection by which we are saved.
Now, as believers, we are dead to this law (Rom 7:4) and now live. Not us, but Christ is the one who lives in us (Gal 2:20). To live our lives as Christ would live it is all encompassing. I do not even have to consider the words “Thou shalt not commit murder” because it’s not even a consideration for me to live In Christ. I am called to a better life—an adult life. Even the thought of murder would be anathema to me if I were thinking more as Christ would: it’s not how Christ worked. The idea of obedience would not be limited to obeying my parents but would be covering all things…even an obedience unto death on a cross. A willful laying down of ourselves and lifting up of Christ.
Be Perfect, means Be Perfect
“Now you’re talking the impossible!” some of you may say with chagrin “I have a job. I work very long hours. I must pay for my child’s schooling.” or, better yet “I am involved in many ministries in the local assembly…you’re telling me that I should be doing more? I can’t! The night of prayer meeting I spend with my children at home. The night of Bible study meeting is Family Night. I simply can’t, and to tell you the truth. I won’t. It’s offensive that you should say this taking into consideration all that I do at the assembly!”
There are assemblies throughout the world which suffer under persecution and sufferings. The early church itself was being hunted down and stoned in public. Today Chinese are being captured while assembling together for meetings be it for prayer or breaking of bread or study of the word or fellowship. Christians are being killed in countries all over the world…and yet the Christians still come together as the Lord asks and wants.
And after all these years we now find that it’s not persecution that destroys the assembling of believers it’s pleasure. What a gun held to a believer’s head couldn’t do, a boss with a raised eyebrow could. What a beheading couldn’t accomplish a risk of losing one’s raise did. What stoning in the pubic square couldn’t convince Christians to do a soft sofa did. It is sad that we forget the words stated in the Bible to forsake not the assembling of ourselves with our worldly needs and pleasures (Heb 10:24, 25).
Some argue the amount of ministries they are involved in the church. A person who is a teacher, who serves at the children ministries, who leads in the Sunday School program, who drives the van for the young people to get together, who washes all the dishes after a coffee break, who works on the chapel’s leaks and cracks and even refloors the entire building is missing out from much more than the faithful elderly woman who comes out to the weekly prayer meeting, the weekly Bible study and the Lord’s Supper (faithfully). Why? She has chosen that good part (Matt 10:42) says the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
“But are you saying to give up our ministries (teaching, children’s, van driving, dishwashing, etc.)?”
Of course not. But look to the example of the early church who met together daily (Acts 2:46) who focused on prayer, the apostles doctrine, fellowship and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42) and the Lord added to their church daily (Acts 2:47). 3000 added on one event, in fact. We don’t see those numbers today…we simply see that the end is near. (And please, if you want to have a family night, what better way to show the example of attending the regular meetings then by taking our children with us to the meetings (Proverbs 22:6)? For those of us with jobs look at what the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes 2:11 I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.)
It’s fairly obvious how this has affected the Christian’s public ministry. Let us for a moment imagine a very big waterfall pouring tons of water into a rather large lake. This lake has various rivers that connect to it and flow outwards. Those rivers lead outwards into the land and they have various smaller rivers and tributaries branching off them and so forth and so on. The rivers get to a point were there is very little water without very much motion at a very tiny corner.
This is what is the effect to the public ministry. We may have the greatest source in the universe of learning and teaching. We may attend this source for years upon years and try to insert as much knowledge into our minds. The problem lies in that mental memorization is only half of the learning of the Christian’s life. The Christian’s life is also very much a life of practice. Now, this new generation of learned Christians have a public ministry of teaching to newer Christians. They teach with their lips but their lives do not reflect the truths of the words being spoken (Rom 2:18-20). The recipient receives a message that it is good to preach such things, but living them is much harder. These new believers forego even trying to live this life and do not even bother with the learning of the portions of scripture that speak of the importance of living this perfect life. To add insult to injury, these new believers soon become teachers to babes…the results are frightening.
Being Perfect is Possible
Perfection will be achieved. It is not to be doubted. This is not something that we can do on our own it is something that God has set forth to do and promises to complete perfection…not to be fulfilled in the now or in this present life, but in the eternal life that is to come (Phil 1:6). We can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13) and that means doing those things that God wants us to do. But the one doing the perfecting, the one doing the work of changing is God himself (Heb 10:14). He’s the one doing the actual work. It was Jesus Christ’s prayer to the father that we as believers be made perfect (John 17:23), and if the Son of God himself prayed the prayer, we must be sure that the Lord will answer.
The crux of the matter is that we are not willing. We don’t want the Lord to continue changing us and working on us. Change is hard and it hurts and we want no part of it. We’re completely willing to let the Lord change those things in our lives which we feel are too much—the parts of our lives which forces us to the feet of the Lord and convinces us to accept his gift of salvation. C.S. Lewis gives an excellent example of a person living in a home with leaky faucets, broken tiles and a seriously decrepit roof.? This person invites a specialist to come into the house and the specialist proceeds to fix the leaky faucets, re-tile the floors and create a new roof on the house.? But the specialist does not stop there, he proceeds to work on the stairs, clean the windows, repave the sidewalk, insert arches and flying buttresses, build several fountains and also to make himself comfortable. The house-owner realizes that the specialist is planning to live here and will not stop until it’s a place acceptable to him.
That’s what the Lord wants to do with us. He wants to work on us, mold us, change us into holy temples worthy of him (1 Cor 3:16; 1 Cor 6:19). As Christians, he has every right to work on us (Rom 9). But many do not let Him. Many, once again, prescribe to the world’s program of Nobody’s Perfect. The saddest part is that numerous Christians have grown to accept this concept and slowly start to resemble the luke-warm church in Revelations (Rev 3:14-22). A church that is not on fire, yet is not cold either. Perhaps involved in various works thinking themselves rich but really poor at heart. Accepting of the world’s philosophy for the sake of maintaining numbers.
For example, divorce has become much more acceptable even in the church. Some say that the one who left was an unbeliever, or perhaps some show the infidelity of the spouse and show through the Bible how the Lord himself excuses divorce in the case of adultery. These people proceed to ignore the passages that say the only reason Moses excused divorce was because of the hardness of the hearts of the people (Matt 19:8; Mk 16:14). He proceeds to say that from the beginning it was not so. Some Christians today take this to mean that in the beginning it was not so but now, in the Dispensation of Grace, divorce is allowed in the case of sexual immorality. Christ states he made them male and female…one man and one wife. The idea of divorce is completely foreign to God’s Plan.
Some even say that the Lord agrees with remarriage after divorce. They point to passages written by Paul where it mentions not being under bondage (1 Cor 7:15) while completely ignoring other passages that speak of the permanence of the relationship (Eph 5:25). Marriage is a portrait of Christ’s relationship with the church. Would Christ divorce the church? Can the church divorce Christ? And if so, will Christ find himself another Church? Of course not, on all counts. In a phrase, the Lord hates divorce (Mal 2:16). If he hates divorce, what exactly makes us think that he rejoices in remarriage after divorce. But the Lord says this, that he who marries one who is divorced commits adultery (Mark 10:11,12), and he also says that what he has put together, no man should put asunder (Mark 10:9).
Divorce, the assembling of the church at meetings, the besmirching of public ministry, the luke-warm mentality of today, are all results of embracing the dangerous philosophy of the world. The philosophy which permeates the local church, having believers refusing to let the Lord have His full work and continues to live a life of mediocrity.
Why not live a life the truly portrays Christ perfect love, offering our families and lives as a sacrifice for our Lord. Reflecting Christ in our lives, home and assembly, let us lay aside every weight and hindrance and look to the author and finisher of our faith. Let us heed the Lord’s command to be perfect, and hold in our hearts that the Lord himself intercedes on our behalf continually. Let us always keep in meditation that the Lord is our strength, and that he is the one doing the work…if we are to let him.