Beware the ‘Perfect’ Christian myth. None of us are mature

Beware the ‘Perfect’ Christian myth. None of us are mature March 13, 2024

Have we seen enough of our Christian heroes fall spectacularly yet to stop putting our trust in humans? Christians will never be perfect in this life and we must stop encouraging the delusion that any of us have our lives all together.

As we journey through lent, its a great time to remind ourselves of our vulnerability to sin.

It’s time we stopped putting certain Christians on a pedestal.  I understand the desire to grow in Christ and become more mature. But the idea that there is a group of special Christians who are close to God and experience no major problems, and commit no major sins is very dangerous.

Do you ever feel like some Christians have perfect lived and wonder if God loves them more than you?

Some Christians feel like they have just scraped into the faith, and that their life is one long struggle whether that’s against sin, the consequences of other sins in their lives, sickness, their relationships or the lack thereof, or other forms of suffering.  This sense of inadequacy is only strengthened when they listen to sermons by preachers who either share no personal anecdotes or only ones that make them look good and imply they live in continuous victory.  Many go through their lives feeling like they will never be a “mature Christian” and that their lives are messy whilst some special Christians have some kind of Midas touch where everything turns to gold.

There is too much adulation of those Christians that seem to be special, anointed, gifted, or otherwise particularly loved by God.  Some of those who feel left out of this special blessing will even feel that God hates them or at least doesn’t love them as much as he loves some others.

Those who are branded as problem Christians feel second class, and like their lives are just a mess. They look on at a group of supposedly perfect Christians that they will be permanently excluded from.   As a result some loose all hope and no longer even try to get closer to God and follow Christ more.  They believe there is no way to experience any sense of spiritual growth, and that  any battle against sin is futile.

As a Christian, it’s common to feel like you’re surrounded by others who have it all together, especially at church gatherings. I hope you realise that you have never met a perfect Christian.  The truth is that every believer experiences pain and struggles at some point in their lives, whether it’s sickness, guilt, rejection, bereavement, or mental illness.

If you are looking at someone on a Sunday morning who looks like they might have a perfect life, you dont know what struggles that person is having or might be about to have.

While it’s important for church to be a positive environment, it’s equally vital for Christians to be open and honest with each other and with God about their emotions and struggles.

The Psalms offer a raw and honest expression of every possible emotion, showing us that it’s okay to bring our true selves before God. They depict moments of anguish, doubt, and despair, yet they also show a journey toward trust and praise in God, even in the midst of unanswered prayers or ongoing struggles. Personally, I’ve found solace in the Psalms during difficult times. Even when I couldn’t find the words to pray, the Psalms provided a language for my pain and a pathway to connect with God authentically. It’s easy to forget the depth of our struggles when things improve, but reading the Psalms during times of ease can serve as a reminder of our past emotions and the help we received from God. They challenge the notion of “perfect” Christianity and encourage us to embrace our imperfections and vulnerabilities before God. READ MORE about this.

But perhaps the dangers are even greater for those who are included in the “mature” group.  Especially if they find themselves right at the top of the christian pyramid.  Those who think they have “arrived” are at particular danger of falling and falling catastrophically.  We have seen so many of those who Christians have adored as celebrities be exposed as believing the normal rules do not apply to them.  As a result of hero worship many leaders have succumbed to sexual temptations, or worse yet treated others with disdain and spiritual abuse.  It seems that no matter how much we admire our Christian heroes they are not immune from falling.  Perhaps the very praise we doll out makes their temptation towards pride and other sins worse than it otherwise would be.


Sinning isn’t the only way our lives can fall apart. The truth is none of us have everything in control and none of us will get through life without experiencing problems both minor and major. The older we get the more true that is.  In fact the most “perfect” Christian will one day experience their world imploding.  Maybe they will lose their job, maybe a key relationship will turn out to be a massive disappointment, or maybe the one they dreamt of getting old together with will suddenly get sick.

Many people lose their faith when their perfect world collapses, whether that is caused by sickness, job loss, or sin.

Jesus told us in this world we will have troubles.  Tim Keller warns us that no matter how secure we might feel, suffering is heading our way.

 

“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.”  (Tim Keller)

READ MORE about finding Hope in Suffering.

The Apostle Paul has something to say to both those who are convinced they are already victorious and to those who feel like abject failures and there is no way they could ever stop sinning:

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, ESV).

I found some great quotes which explain this well

The Apostle adds two admonitions: to those who are so self-confident that they think that they have no need to be watchful; and to those that are so despondent that they think that it is useless to struggle with temptation.

Robertson, A., & Plummer, A. (1911). A critical and exegetical commentary on the First epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (p. 208). T&T Clark.

 

We are most likely to fall when we are most confident of our own strength, and thereupon most apt to be secure, and off our guard. Distrust of himself, putting him at once upon vigilance and dependence on God, is the Christian’s best security against all sin. Note, He who thinks he stands is not likely to keep his footing, if he fears no fall, nor guards against it. God has not promised to keep us from falling, if we do not look to ourselves: his protection supposes our own care and caution. But to this word of caution he adds a word of comfort, v. 13. Though it is displeasing to God for us to presume, it is not pleasing to him for us to despair.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2262). Hendrickson.

 

A Christian is not a man who relies upon himself. It is only the Christian who knows his own weakness. It takes a Christian to see the blackness of his own heart and the frailty of his own nature. There is a type of Christian, I regret to say, who behaves as if he can do everything. He has had an experience of conversion, and now he is ready to face hell and the devil and everything. Poor fellow, he will not go very far before he loses that sense of confidence. ‘Let him that thinks he stands,’ said the apostle Paul to such people, ‘take heed lest he fall’ (1 Cor. 10:12). No, the Christian is a man who knows his own weakness, and he is afraid of it. So he prays for a steady spirit, a reliable spirit. He wants to be a sound man.

Lloyd-Jones, M. (2011). Out of the Depths: Psalm 51 (p. 88). Bryntirion Press; Christian Heritage.

 

Christians will never be perfect in this life and we must stop encouraging the delusion that any of us have our lives all together.  But we should also not despair of seeing any progress in our lives, either.

We should aim to follow Jesus with all our hearts, but never forget that the only way we can do this with his help.

 

The quotes in this post were found using Logos Bible Software.  If you do not yet have this wonderful Bible Study tool or you are due an upgrade, readers of this blog get a 10% discount.  This is an affiliate link.

 

Read More

Hope in Suffering

‘You Can’t Say That to God!’

Imperfect Churches Reflect God’s Perfect Glory

Can a Christian get depressed?

Jesus Commands: Follow Me

Lent reminds us of our vulnerability to sin

We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no hope

Keller: Grace Comes Before Faith

The gospels of Marx, capitalism and Jesus

How to survive the anointing like Billy Graham

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