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So That’s Why

I have often wondered why I’m not perfect yet. 

I mean, I’ve been into the following Christ thing for a long time, even have a graduate degree in it, have been a coach for many others, and have seen God work in incredible ways in people’s lives.

But, here’s the deal, instead of being perfect by now, I seem to be more aware of my imperfections.  Is that a stage of life thing, like I’ve just had more time to create the imperfect list?  Is it being too obsessive about spiritual stuff?  Is it a breakdown in my understanding of the grace of God? 

No, here’s what I think explains it:  the difference between ‘transgression’ and ‘sin’ in Ephesians 2:1.  The apostle Paul says that we were once ‘dead’ in our transgressions and sins.  He uses two distinct words.  ‘Transgression’ speaks to crossing a threshold or a boundary that one shouldn’t, or stepping off the right path, or running a roadblock.  I get that.  As a kid I climbed enough fences that were meant to keep me out to fully understand the meaning of ‘transgression.’

 The Greek word for ‘sin’ means something else.  It has to do with missing a target, falling short of an intended goal.  Romans 3:23 says that all have ‘sinned,’ and then it defines the target – the glory of God – that is, what God had in mind.

So, I have cleaned up many of the ‘transgression’ moments in my life, at least the obvious ones.  I’m sure that there are ways that I still step off the path, but I don’t look to the left or right as much as I once did as a younger person.

But, the falling short part of what God had in mind?  Hmmm . . . . It seems that the closer I get to God the more I realize how far short I am of what could be.  Particularly, if I embrace Jesus as the standard.  It’s not unlike what Socrates said about wisdom, that the wise person knows how much they don’t know.  That understanding kept Socrates humble – and pliable.

Here’s an example.  The more I understand how great God is, the more I realize that my response does not match that reality.  My worship of such a great God should be so constant and real that I should never get distracted by lesser things.  Like, what was Bill Belichick thinking to go for it on fourth-and-two against the Colts on Sunday night?

The clearer picture I get of God, the clearer picture I get of myself, and it’s not as pretty as I thought.

But, is this awareness a spiritual pathology on my part?  Should I go read The Secret to feel better about myself?

I was encouraged the other day as I was reading Paul Miller’s book, The Praying Life, when he wrote that stronger Christians pray more because they are more aware of their weakness and need. 

And here are some things that that awareness helps us do: 

  1. Be hungrier for God, his work and presence in our lives.
  1. Reject our performance attempts, knowing that they are silly and useless.
  1. Swim in God’s grace and love.
  1. Be more honest and transparent.
  1. Be more gracious to everyone else.
  1. Avoid wallowing in our short-comings.
  1. Laugh at the devil’s attempts to condemn.

 

I'm laughing now, because God's grace is huge.