I’m not a very wise person. I too often speak before I think, and a lot of what I say shouldn’t be shared or doesn’t make sense. But one thing I’ve learned over the years that I feel is worth sharing is the simple truth that people—no matter how much we pretend to be—are most definitely not perfect. And I can’t expect them to be. I am certainly no exception. I mess up all the time. I act on impulse, letting my heart control my mouth. That’s never a good thing. I have prejudices and judgments and silly misconceptions that warp my thinking. I am naturally selfish, and I let skewed priorities dictate how I spend my time. I am very far from perfect. I’m galaxies away from perfect.
But as a Christian, I’ve learned that I have to accept that I live in a broken world. I live in a broken world, in a broken body, surrounded by broken souls. That's a lot of brokenness. Sin is real and corrupting and perhaps most of all, tempting. Everyone struggles with it. Everyone. That is a basic principle of Christianity. ALL have sinned. If we didn’t struggle with it, there’d be no need for a savior, for a loving and merciful God who sacrificed everything so we wouldn’t have to. Yet I’m still continually surprised when I discover that truth over and over again in every day life. Why? Why am I surprised by the corruption, greed, and hatred that permeates every aspect of our society?
The answer is simple. I still find myself expecting perfection in a world that is fundamentally broken. I have forgotten that while we are in the world, Christians are not of the world. This is not our true home, thank the Lord. We are set apart, as Philippians 3:20-21 tells us:
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself."
We were not made for this broken, dark world. Our true, everlasting citizenship isn’t this country or anywhere else on this earth. It’s in a perfect kingdom with a perfect Savior. Yeah, that sounds a heck of a lot better than what we've got here. Still, while we are here, we have to face the trials that come with living in a world dominated by sin. That means we can't be perfect. We are going to mess up. It's inevitable. But that's certainly not a free pass to sin. Most definitely not. However, Hebrews 4:15-16 is a great encourager:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
We are not perfect, but our loving and holy Father is. His grace and mercy free us from the burden of trying to conquer sin on our own. As Christians, we are never alone. Never. Not even when we feel overwhelmed by our own brokenness and the world seems to be crumbling into pieces. Even when imperfect people fail you, even when you feel you've failed yourself, God will always, always, always love you more than you could ever comprehend. He is not bound by this broken world and He is not corrupted by the sin we daily face. His love is pure in every way.
Christians are often given the label of hypocrites because, well, we are. Everyone is a hypocrite at some point in their life. But because of what we believe, Christians are held to a higher standard. We’re expected to be perfect, to never mess up, and if one Christian shows corruption, the whole system must be corrupt, right? Well, no. If you believe that, please, please, please don’t let the sin of someone else keep you from accepting the grace of a loving God. We are all sinful. We all make mistakes. Christians (or at least the ones that have truly taken their proclaimed faith to heart) accept that they will sin. Yes, we can be hypocrites. We can, and often do, proclaim love and practice hatred. Yet my response to those who would use our failings to prove Christianity a hypocritical religion is simply this:
Hypocrisy is a world that demands perfection of people who have accepted their own brokenness.
I am, on my own, perfectly broken. I live in a broken world of broken people and I am no different. Until the day I die, I will struggle with sin. Through God's strength, I can fight it. But until the day my heart stops beating and I finally get to go home, I will make mistakes. Just as God has and will continue to show me incredible grace and mercy, should I not show that same amazing grace and mercy to those who are making mistakes right alongside me?