Our culture idolizes perfection. Walk into a library and you’ll see shelves stocked with self-help books that claim to improve your life. Scan social media on New Year’s Day and you’ll find myriads of resolutions. Shop in any mall and you’ll find perfect photos of perfect models with perfect bodies. Perfection is everywhere.
As teens growing up in this society, it’s easy to become lured by the possibility of perfection. Try harder, culture says, and you’ll reach the top. All it takes is a simple lifestyle change, or a little more effort, or a product that will somehow make you beautiful. “Listen to me,” the world whispers, “and you’ll finally be perfect.”
This ideal can be crushing. No matter how hard you strive, you can’t seem to meet expectations. Whatever your struggle, each of us share something in common: imperfection.
Culture’s lie is enticing. We’re tempted to reach the top by ourselves and wallow when we fail. But by his mercy, God reminds us of a simple truth.
Perfection of our own power is impossible. But a perfect God loves us despite our imperfections.
Here are three truths about perfection that God has been teaching me recently:
1. Nobody’s Perfect
In contrast to culture’s push towards perfection, the phrase “nobody’s perfect” has also become popular. “Oh, nobody’s perfect,” says the pop star when she messes up. “You should love me for me.”
Yet that’s not the kind of phrase I’m talking about. That phrase is for people who shrug off their sin and don’t live lives according to God’s word. I’m speaking for those who strive to improve and fail regardless.
Romans 3:10 affirms, “None is righteous, no not one.” None of us are without sin. We all fall short of God’s standard. Because of our sinful nature, we’re born imperfect and will die imperfect, no matter how hard we try.
This truth can be discouraging, but also incredibly freeing. Let it sink in for a moment. Nobody’s perfect. Not even the authors of self-help books, or your friends who keep their New Year’s Resolutions, or those models in the mall. They might seem perfect, but according to God’s Word, none of them are truly unflawed.
“Alright, that’s true,” you’re probably thinking, “But I’m still discouraged. I try so hard and continue to mess up.”
Guess what? The story doesn’t stop there.
2. God Uses Our Imperfections
Read Scripture and you’ll find that God rarely chooses perfect people. Think of the apostle Paul, a man who made it his mission to destroy the young church. Or remember Moses, the stuttering, scared Israelite who doubted God’s promises. Even Rahab, the prostitute, was a pagan woman from a foreign land. Each of these people were sinners. Each one was flawed. Yet God used their lives to send ripples through the rest of history.
Paul became a pivotal figure in the Church he had once sought to destroy. Moses led his people from bondage and spoke with the God he’d doubted. Rahab turned from her sin and entered into God’s family–literally–as an ancestor of Jesus Christ.
These Biblical figures share something in common with all of God’s people. None of them were perfect. Despite their flaws, God turned their lives around and used them for his glory.
You and I aren’t so different. Whenever I’m discouraged and start to feel like a failure, I remind myself of a simple phrase:
“God uses our imperfections to advance his perfect plan.”
As sinful humans, we are often ashamed of our weaknesses. But in fact, we’re called to boast of them.
2nd Corinthians 12:9 says, “‘But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
God’s glory is often manifested most in imperfect people. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for sanctification. But the thought can bring comfort in a world of doubt. We don’t have to live up to society’s standards, because someone has already shattered them. He’s redefined our identities, reversed the curse of sin, clothed our flaws in righteousness–not because of what we’ve done, but because of his perfection.We don’t have to live up to society’s standards, because someone has already shattered them. Click To Tweet
As flawed, sinful creatures, “nobody’s perfect.”
But we know someone who is.
3. Jesus is Perfect
Unlike the Biblical heroes, unlike us, Christ was without sin. He had every right to cast imperfect people from his presence. Instead, he loved what the world deemed weak and worthless. He “came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17).
Some believe they will attain salvation if they “try a little harder” and strive for perfection. This is yet another lie, whispered by the world. Christ redefines the search for perfection. Rather than forcing us to reach for righteousness, “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ bore each of our imperfections on the cross so that by believing him and turning from sin, we would be made perfect. We struggle now, but in Heaven, Christ’s perfection will clothe us.
You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to earn the world’s respect. Christ was already perfect for you. Let God use your imperfections to advance his perfect plan. Bring them before his throne and let him sanctify you.
So next time you see a self-help book, or read a resolution, or walk through the mall, remember. Remember that God’s Word is worth more than the world. Remember Christ’s perfection. Remember who you are.
You are a child of God, made perfect by Christ’s sacrifice.
And not even the world can take that away.