Some of us struggle with perfection. We always want to say the right thing, wear the right clothes, and make ourselves appear like we are strong, solid individuals who have it all together. And when we make a mistake, we are so humiliated that we just want to die. But have we ever stopped to consider the idea that, maybe, just maybe, trying to project a perfect image might be a bad idea?
God isn’t in the business of asking us for our perfection. He’s in the business of giving us our perfection. “If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own” (Romans 4:1-3, The Message Bible).
Many of us like to take culture out of our lives and say that we are doing it for God. We reject all things human. We see a group of people dressed in leather jackets and chains and judge them immediately. We listen to the latest music on the radio and say to ourselves, “What kind of trash are they playing these days?” The latest movies that come out, the best selling books, the shirts that hipsters wear, if we don’t like it, then we criticize it and say that God doesn’t like it either.
Let me clarify one thing. I’m not talking about rejecting culture for its artistic quality—we have the right to our personal styles and artistic tastes. I’m saying that we shouldn’t reject culture on the basis that it isn’t flying a flag for Jesus. Humans will be human, and it is okay for Christians to be human as well. Just because we enjoy certain types of entertainment, doesn’t mean that we are sinning. Just because we are honest thinkers, doesn’t mean that we are making God look bad. And just because we only listen to Christian music, doesn’t mean we are doing a service to Jesus.
God never said dressing differently is a sin. God never said that liking different forms of music is a sin. He never said entertainment is a sin. He may have warned us not to be encouraged to sin because of them, but the act of watching a movie is not a sin. And when Paul told us not to conform to the patterns of this world, he was saying nothing about personal tastes and interests. He was, however, talking about truth and lies.
So, just because we have all of the latest Christian music Cds, all of the best Bible verses printed on our shirts, and never speak out of turn or talk about fighting or enjoy a good joke doesn’t mean that we are perfect in the way God enjoys. In fact, God just might say that we are almost the opposite of the perfection he is looking for, because, again, God isn’t looking for us to make ourselves perfect by rejecting our very own culture. He is looking for us to let him make us perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And then he is looking for us to complete “good works.” Good works such as helping and giving and leading others to the one true God. All of which can be done without the aid of Christian songs, shirts, and statues.
“Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God?” (Romans 4:6-9, The Message Bible).
By buying everything Christian, what we are doing is embracing the Christian culture. Doing that isn’t a sin, but, just like with every other type of culture there is, embracing the Christian culture also comes with a warning: It could isolate us from the world. It could have us believing that we are the source of our own salvation. It could make us think less of those who don’t do the same as we do. It could give us the license to be uptight, boring, judgmental jerks. All of which is the thorn that has crippled the church’s connection with the people who do not purchase the Christian culture—the people who Jesus died to connect with.