Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Perfection Standard

After witnessing the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team win its 78th straight game last night and its second championship in a row, I am reminded of how enamored we are as a society with the pursuit of perfection. Just two years ago, the New England Patriots were within minutes of achieving a perfect 19-0 season which had never been accomplished in professional football. For months their pursuit of perfection captivated the New England area and every football fan across the nation, prompting ESPN to include a “patriots” tracking symbol within their update scroll to ensure fans were kept up to date, every minute of the day on team developments.

What is it about perfection that captivates us to such an intense degree? Could it be that it signifies an achievement without blemish, without error, without defect? Or perhaps it exemplifies all that we hope to be in life, not only within athletic competitions, but also within our careers, our marriages, and our churches.

While all of these are certainly plausible reasons for why we are entranced with the pursuit of perfection, I believe at the core we desire it because our God is perfect and we are made in His image and likeness, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female…Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 5:48).

You see, it has always been God’s desire that we be perfect. When He created us that was His purpose and hope but as sin captivated our hearts, it alone drew us away from God and we ceased to be perfect and God’s standard became unattainable. It is this dilemma of trying to reconcile sin with perfection that prompted God the Father to send his Son Jesus Christ to earth to become the necessary propitiation or satisfaction for our sins (I John 2:2).

Many believe that when we die our good works will be weighed against our bad works and as long as our good works balance out our bad works than we will be permitted into heaven. But the Bible has something very different to say. Isaiah 64:6 states that all our acts of righteousness are like filthy rags to God. Why is this? Because even our good works are stained with sin before a holy and just God for we are all sinners; we have broken God's commandments. In this sense we are all wicked, and therefore, we do not stand a chance of escape from Divine justice.

That is why, if we had to rely on our obedience to God’s commandments or laws, we could never be justified before Him, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). With tears of sorrow, even the holiest Christian admits he/she sins ever day. As long as we remain on earth it is a sad reality that we continue to sin and miss the mark of perfection.

If we were honest with ourselves, we would not ask whether we have obeyed God’s laws enough to be justified - we know we have not. Rather, every one of us should ask: What can free me, a guilty sinner, from my sin?

Thank God for His Son. There is hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

We read this good news in Romans 4:5 when the Apostle Paul declares, “To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” You see, it is God Himself that justifies the sinner. Paul insists that it is to him "who does not work" but "believes" that God accounts as righteous. God justifies the ungodly by faith alone because Jesus Christ alone is perfect and we are made perfect in Him!

What a glorious truth to contemplate. All of us, through the blood of Jesus can attain perfection before God! Romans 10:9-10 tells us how to do it, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

While it was wonderful to watch the University of Connecticut women achieve perfection last night, it was something that was only attainable by those 12 women. What Jesus Christ is offering is attainable to anyone, anywhere, right now. If you have not attained the perfection offered by Jesus, won’t you today?

No comments: