Skip to content

On perfection, good works, and falling short

June 29, 2010

This particular morning Jeremiah and I were driving down the road on our way to get breakfast when we caught a glimpse of a church’s marquee to our right. In black letters it read: No Perfect People Allowed.

Out of all the crazy church marquee signs out there, this one was a breath of fresh air. I figured the church must have gotten the phrase from John Ortberg’s book.

Growing up in the church, there were times I felt I had to be perfect to be accepted. So much that I kept up a certain image inside the doors and another one on the outside. But I was totally missing the mark in my faith and in the gospel and here’s why:

Perfection or “good behavior” isn’t the goal of our faith. I fall short every time when it is. The goal is depending on God’s grace and love to work in our hearts and transform them. Any good works we produce are evidence of a life that has been changed by Christ. Behavior modification doesn’t mean life change has truly happened from the inside out. Anyone can look holy. And we can’t mistake this for the gospel.

These truths have lifted certain burdens like: If I could just follow that rule closer… If I could sin less in this area… if I could just appear to love that person, then.. This thinking is all about me and what I can do and not on God’s grace to ultimately change my heart and help me put sin to death.

On our drive back with a belly full of chocolate chip pancakes, I glanced at the sign again. While my good works won’t get me anywhere, I became more thankful that an absolute dependence on a perfect Savior to change my stubborn heart, always will.

Do you ever focus too much on good works instead of grace? Any church marquee signs catching your eye lately?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2010 6:50 pm

    I really like your statement about “an absolute dependence on a perfect Savior to change my stubborn heart”. So, so true. My heart is very stubborn, and ugh, dependence is tough.

  2. Anna permalink
    June 30, 2010 8:53 am

    I don’t have any deep philosophical or theological statements…

    But this made me think about an idea I had in college of making a coffee table type book out of church marquee signs photographed. SFASU is in rural east texas, so with all of the driving around out there I saw some great ones. Ones that I should have written down, because now I can’t remember them.

  3. July 1, 2010 11:31 am

    Thank you Amy.

    Anna, I think you should totally make that. You’d be great at it. And it would be so fun to look through. Let me know if you make one- I bet there are some hilarious ones in rural east Texas 🙂

  4. July 5, 2010 12:41 am

    I often felt the same way as you did as a child, Samantha, feeling perfection was what was expected of me. Because of this I try to make certain that my own children never feel this way. They could repeat my words verbatim – whenever I have to talk to them about an issue they’ve had or discipline them for something I say the same thing – “You know I don’t expect you to be perfect and neither does Jesus. Why?” and they’ll say, “because I can’t be.” And then I launch full force into my, “that’s why we need a saviour” speech. They’ve heard it a hundred times!
    I’m praying that they will understand grace at an early age! Much earlier than I did!

    • July 6, 2010 6:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing Rhonda. I love hearing how you’re teaching your sons. I’ve been thinking about you!

  5. July 6, 2010 9:25 am

    Thanks for the post and the good reminder…that works just leave us frustrated because we can never quite measure up. And especially measure up to our own expectations. But when we seek God first then his works come through us in a lighter and more blessed way.

  6. Nicole permalink
    July 6, 2010 5:13 pm

    I remember often times in high school and college feeling like I could be more “real” with my unsaved friends than I could with my Christian friends. Sometimes it felt like my Christian friends and I were competing to be the Godliest of all….and in doing so hindering our ability to really seek that Godliness. It’s only in genuine authenticity, in openness, in times of vulnerability and self reflection, that growth happens. Iron can’t sharpen iron if you never expose your “dull spots”. 🙂

  7. July 6, 2010 6:10 pm

    Doug- all that I said in a post- you said in a few sentences. You captured it exactly. Thank you!

  8. July 20, 2010 9:02 pm

    Brilliant post Samantha.

    God does command us in the Holy Bible “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” and “Be ye holy as your Father in heaven is perfect”.

    As Jesus is perfect we should be very determined to follow His example. He wasn’t in competition with His creation, so nor should we be with our fellowman. As long as we link these being perfect and holy sayings of God to Jesus’ teachings on the golden rule we will prosper.

    My experience is that works (achievements) have the potential to leave us very fulfilled and very proud of God who has inspired and empowered us right throught the journey.

    When I do works in the spirit I feel very exhilerated and I’m never left with the feeling that I haven’t measured up. Truly God’s Holy Spirit cleanses us continually, so that feelings of frustration occur increasingly rarely.

    O yes, absolute dependence on Jesus Christ, Our perfect Savior, will change any stubborn heart! My own life testifies to this truth!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: