There Is No Such Thing as Perfect Christianity | Sojourners

There Is No Such Thing as Perfect Christianity

There’s no such thing as a perfect Christian, and there’s no such thing as perfect Christianity.

They don’t exist. One of the biggest lies Satan can tell you is that perfect spirituality can be achieved — it can’t.

There’s no perfect denomination.

There’s no perfect church.

There’s no perfect congregation size.

There’s no perfect style of worship.

There’s no perfect theology.

There’s no perfect children’s ministry curriculum.

There’s no perfect youth ministry philosophy.

There’s no perfect sermon formula.

There’s no perfect service sequence.

There’s no perfect leadership structure.

There’s no perfect interpretation of the Bible.

There’s no perfect strategy for evangelism.

Unfortunately, the idea of attaining perfect faith is perpetuated throughout Christendom. If you only attend this church more, pray more, tithe more, forgive more, sacrifice more, and ultimately do this or that just a little bit more — then you will attain blissful happiness, perfect harmony, divine communion with God, and a happily ever after eternity.

But this type of perfection is impossible to attain, and it’s a deception many spend their entire lifetimes attempting to validate.

The concept of perfect faith is tempting to believe in, especially for religious authorities who wield any sort of power, control, or influence. Churches, institutions, organizations, pastors, theologians, and leaders want us to believe in their perfection — all we have to do is follow them, give to their causes, buy their books, attend their conferences, donate to their fundraisers, and support their agendas.

It provides a false sense of clarity, conclusiveness, absolutism, and security. It leaves no room for unanswered questions, doubt, or mystery, and faith is approached as something to be solved — ”perfected.”

Spiritual perfectionists tear down others, self-promote, and everything they say, do, and believe in — according to them — is perfect. It’s right. It’s conclusive. It’s not open for debate.

There is no listening, no dialogue, no humility, no doubt, no uncertainty, no grace, no mercy, no love.

The fruits of the Spirit are conspicuously absent.

This type of thinking promotes an aggressive form of warfare against the outside majority who inevitably aren’t perfect — the excluded ones who don’t share the exact same beliefs, opinions, lifestyles, or emulate a specific type of spirituality.

Those who aren’t part of the select few are seen as undesired and dangerous outcasts, whose beliefs, theology, doctrines, traditions, and general existence are all wrong — even sinful. They’re sometimes labeled heretics.

Inevitably, a desire for spiritual perfection leads to legalism, elitism, judgment, bigotry, fear, shame, guilt, alienation, exclusivism, and hatred. It becomes a destructive form of idolatry.

It can also lead to a deep sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, anxiety, and burnout.

Instead of yearning for Christ, a superficial faith is desired, where people prefer to create a facade and live out a lie in order to fool those who are watching into think they’re actually being righteous — vainly attempting to achieve their ideal preconceived form of spiritual perfection.

It’s time for Christians to accept grace, complexity, and the idea that we don’t know everything — and never will. Embrace the freedom of Christ! Going one step further, we must admit that we’ve often gotten it very, very wrong.

Christians have hurt people. Individuals, communities, churches, organizations, and institutions have done horrible things in the name of Christ.

It’s OK to admit this. The fact that Christianity isn’t perfect doesn’t negate truth — it actually admits it, reveals it, and helps us accept reality.

And although there’s no perfect Christianity, and no perfect Christian, there is a perfect God. This is our passionate hope: Jesus is perfect! This is a wonderful truth Christians must wholly embrace. Christ wants our identity to rest solely in His perfection — not our religious imperfection.

Stephen Mattson blogs at stephenjmattson.com. He's contributed for Relevant Magazine, Redletterchristians.org , and studied Youth Ministry at the Moody Bible Institute. He is now on staff at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, Minn. Follow him on Twitter @mikta.

Image:  / Shutterstock.com

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