No Perfect People Allowed

No Perfect People Allowed

Seek to know Jesus, not to fulfill the requirements of your religion.

I have struggled a lot with wanting to have fun and embrace my youth and wanting to fully surrender myself to God and let him use me.

After typing that sentence, I realized how ridiculous it sounds. Growing up as a believer, I know what powerful things God can do when you let him. But growing up in a secular world, I know that it is not as easy as it sounds. Because while I can fill myself up with truths from the Bible and go to church and listen to podcasts by my favorite pastors, I am still going to have to go out into the world and hear what they say.

It is hard to not want to take part in what the world has to offer.

I am now in my second semester of freshman year. I have made it through the difficult time of transition to living on my own, I am rarely homesick anymore, I have new friends, and I am finding out more about myself each day. It is crazy to think that I have four months of freshman year left – it feels like I moved in last week.

When I realize how quickly college is passing by, it makes me want to take full advantage of the time that I am in. It makes me want to go out and have fun, late nights with my friends. It makes me want to study and make good grades in the classes that I have before they get too terribly difficult. It makes me want to hold on to the moments that I am experiencing and live them fully.

God gave us life on earth to live to the fullest, but sometimes I feel guilty if I don’t want to spend every waking moment reading my Bible or going to church. I feel like I am not doing my part as a believer if I want to go out in college. I get caught up in the religion factor of Christianity when I should be focusing on a relationship with my creator.

Being a Christian is not about perfect living. It is the complete opposite. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that in order to call myself a Christian, I have to be as close to perfect as humanly possible. The entire reason that a relationship with God is so amazing is because we are able to be imperfect. We are saved and chosen and freed and desired despite how broken and imperfect we are. As hard as I try sometimes to act like I have everything together, God knows that I don’t and loves me anyway.

In this world, we will have trouble. Whether this trouble is a loss of a family member, a medical condition, an internal struggle, or a combination of these and more, take heart, Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus didn’t die for us to live perfect lives and do everything right.

The third chapter of John says that God sent his son not to condemn, but to save. Thousands of testimonies are built around the fact that we are so messed up and realize that we can’t do it on our own. Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” No one in this world deserves what he has to give us, yet we can get it anyway.

It is finished. Salvation is freely given by grace through faith. It has nothing to do with the deeds that we do or how well we live our lives. Therefore, while it is important to build the kingdom and do our part as Jesus’s hands and feet in the world, it is also important to not get caught up in the “rules” of being a Christian.

God’s greatest desire is to know us and for us to know him. So before trying your best to cancel out the amount of mistakes you’ve made with the amount of Starbucks you’ve bought for the person behind you, remember that God wants a relationship, not a list of the things you have done or not done.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Charlotte, You Have My Heart

My home away from home.

This is going to be ironic because my last article was about being hurt, which is honestly an ongoing battle, but after a few weeks of refreshing my mind away from the lull of social media, I am feeling more at ease now instead of on edge.

I'll tell you why.

This past weekend, I went to a place that has felt like home for the past year even though I had never physically been there. I went to a place that brings light to dark days and situations. I went to a place that introduced me to the best relationship in my life.

Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina is my home away from home and I finally made a weekend trip to go visit and attend a Saturday night service.

Let me just tell you, Pastor Steven has been preaching on a series called #SavageJesus and Jesus is the bomb - even more so than I thought.

Sorry, I just had to get that out there.

But let me tell you what I learned from this sermon.

Pastor Steven was preaching in Mark 1:40 about the leper.

Lepers in that time were not allowed to go anywhere near "clean" people. If they did, they had to shout "Unclean" before even making it there.

Well, the man with leprosy was so tired of feeling unclean that he would rather risk trying to see and talk to Jesus than continue his life in isolation.

The leper made it to Jesus and asked Him to make him clean. Of course, Jesus did, because He's a loving Savior.

But this is what I took away from this sermon.

In the wise words of Pastor Steven: Jesus can't heal what you don't reveal.

This relates back to my last article; I felt hurt, sad, lonely, confused. I felt like my walls were caving in and I was being smothered by everything around me. I felt helpless.


I revealed my hurt, my sadness, my loneliness and confusion. I admitted that I had no clue what I was doing and I was tired of trying to figure it out on my own; I couldn't do it anymore.

So, I gave it to God. I had no other choice.

And then Pastor Steven put it into the perfect words: He can't heal what you don't reveal.

And when I revealed my hurt, I felt God take it all in His own hands, like a breath of fresh air.

Thank you, Elevation, for being the guiding light towards my relationship with God and Jesus Christ. It was the best coincidence I ever had by coming across you on YouTube. God put you in my life at the right time, when He knew I needed guidance, when I needed healing.

I can never say thank you enough to the clearness you have brought into my heart and mind.

Cover Image Credit: Mandy Parsons

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If God Is Good, Then God Must Not Be All-Powerful

This might be blasphemy, but it’s what I believe.

I believe in God. Let’s start there. I really like the idea that there is a greater power in the universe, beyond what we so far have been able to explain with science, and I believe that I have personally felt God’s presence in the world.

I’m a born-and-raised Jew, though my parents never demanded that I believe, only that I respect their traditions while I lived in their house. I decided, growing up, that I liked those traditions, and that I believed in God.

My relationship with God is, in a word, complicated. Sometimes I’m more reverent than others. I praise God some days and on others I mutter snarky comments to God that would make Tevye the Milkman proud. I go through phases where I write G-d instead of God, out of respect for the holy name. Other times – like now – I think, “God’s name isn’t actually ‘God,’ so what does it matter how I spell it in English? It’s not like he/she/they/whatever minds.”

This complicated relationship with God is pretty typical for Jews. Our patriarch Jacob is known for literally wrestling with God. Rabbis have been debating God’s laws, intentions, and even God’s very existence for over five thousand years. There are atheist Jews.

There’s an old joke about three rabbis debating a point, two trying to convince the third to change his mind. Eventually God shouts down from the heavens to say that the third rabbi is, in fact, correct. To that the two rabbis say, “Eh, it’s still just two on two.”

Recently I spent several days working at an event with a lot of motivational speakers. A recurring theme of these speakers’ presentations was that God had a plan for everyone. Some of them hedged their comments by saying that they weren’t trying to force their beliefs on anyone, and that we could call God whatever we wanted, but they maintained that God had a plan for everyone.

But that isn’t a general God concept. This is a specifically Christian concept. For Jews, God has an intent, but not necessarily a plan. God began creation, but now he’s pretty hands-off about it; it’s our job to continue the creation process and heal the world. The closest Jews get to the concept of God having a plan is the stuff we say on Yom Kippur about God inscribing people into the book of life for a new year. According to Judaism, if God has a plan – and that’s a big “if” – it’s re-written at least yearly, and we can ask for it to be altered.

A lot of Christians I’ve met in my life take comfort in the idea that God has everything planned out for them. They respond to their failures with the line, “God must have something else planned for me,” and with tragedies with the line, “God must be trying to teach me something.” Which is all well and good in my opinion for a lot of the smaller bad things that happen in the world.

But some bad things are just too big for me to understand as a part of a plan. Children get incurable cancers. Tornadoes wipe away entire communities in a single night. All over the world, all throughout history, people in power label a group as the source of all their problems and use that as reason to murder millions, and no miracle stops them.

The question of why bad things happen to good people is a question that people have been asking forever. My personal conclusion is this: God is not all-powerful.

If God is all-powerful, if God has a plan for all of us and controls everything that happens to us, and those things involve child cancer and genocide, then how could God be good?

Perhaps my brain is just too mortal and fallible to comprehend the logic of God. I certainly don’t have enough hubris to claim that I understand God’s will. But with the mind and the morals that I do have, I cannot see a completely all-powerful God who controlled everything and yet caused or allowed such things to happen as good.

I very much prefer to believe that God is good. I don’t want to believe in a cruel God. Therefore, God must not be all-powerful. God must not control everything. And I’m fine with that.

We say that humans were made in the image of God. Humans are imperfect, so God too may be imperfect. I can believe in an imperfect God. I am very happy with the idea that when bad things happen, God is watching with as much horror as we are.

That isn’t to say that God never does anything for us. As I said, I believe I have felt God’s presence. We call it b’shert – when things just work out so well there’s no way someone wasn’t pulling the strings. B’shert is leaving the house, realizing you left your cell phone, and going back in to find that you left the stove on. B’shert is the little voice in your head telling you to take a different route to work, and later you learn that there was a big accident on your normal route. B’shert is the tornado missing your house.

B’shert is God exerting influence on the world. It is not God controlling everything. It is not God following a plan. It is not God making bad things happen to good people. I do not believe that God does any of those things.

Perhaps one day, after I die, I will come face-to-face with God.

Perhaps God will say to me, “You’re wrong. I’m all-powerful, and I controlled everything, and you’re going to hell for believing incorrectly.”

To that I would reply, “Send me to hell, then. I’ll be in good company there, with the Jews, atheists, homosexuals, and everyone else you’ve arbitrarily damned. We know how to suffer together.”

Or perhaps God will say to me, “You’re wrong. I’m all-powerful, and I controlled everything. But I forgive you for not believing. Come with me to heaven.”

To that I would reply, “No. I will not go with you. You may have forgiven me, but I have not forgiven you.”

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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