If I am pretty enough, he will like me.
If I am clever enough, they will want to be friends with me.
If I am funny enough, everyone will want to be around me.
If I am professional enough, they will hire me.
If I work hard enough, I will get exactly what I want.
If I am independent enough, they will respect me.
If I am seek Jesus enough, God will bless me.
As a Christian, I KNOW that we are saved by grace and not works so that no one can boast, but in my every day life I often function under the belief that if I am enough of __________, I will get _____________. Even though I like the idea that Jesus loves us all with undeserved grace, I still want to earn His favor (and everyone else's).
I can think of one main reason why I think this way: I want CONTROL. Ah, will the control-freak in my ever die? Seriously? Viewing life as purely cause and effect allows me to believe that anything is within my control and that if something doesn't go my way it's just because I wasn't "good enough". The problem is, that is not always the case, and it's almost never the case when it comes to our relationship with God. Of course there are common sense decisions in life, such as, if you start smoking crack you're probably going down a bad path, but that's obvious.
What's less obvious is the sneaky idea of perfection - thinking that if you are as perfect as you can be in as many areas of life as you can be, then you will have the perfect life. This goes along well with the sneaky lie that other people DO in fact have the perfect life and you just need to get with it and be like them. Be perfect. All the time.
And if you can't seem to be perfect all the time? Or if you're a Christian and you're above the "ways of this world"? Then just be a perfect Christian and God will reward you by giving you everything that you want! Right? Isn't that how it works? If I do what God says, won't He bless me (not in general, but with the specific things I've asked for)?
1. Human perfection is impossible. And what does perfection mean anyway? Who decides what's perfect? Wouldn't only God be able to determine perfection?
2. Even if perfection by God's standards was possible...Jesus doesn't play that game. He didn't save you because you were perfect and He's not going to bless you because you're perfect. (And you're not perfect. Not even close.)
When we approach God (or any area of life) with this cause and effect, if I'm "good enough" mindset, eventually we're going to be disappointed and frustrated. Because sometimes we do have the best intentions and we do give something our best effort and it just doesn't happen. We don't get the job. The relationship doesn't work out. And it's not because we weren't good looking enough, or witty enough, or that we didn't pray enough. Sometimes you can be really good looking, witty, and prayerful and things can still go the OPPOSITE way of what you wanted.
That's God's not-so-gentle way of reminding us that we are not in control. Yes, we can and should give every area of life our best efforts, but not with the belief that our efforts are ensuring our desires come to fruition. I have spent too much of my time as a follower of Christ at odds with Him because I didn't feel like He was holding up His end of the "deal". I prayed, I served, I read my Bible, I went to church, I didn't date non-Christian guys....now give. me. what. I. want! I deserve it. Oh and by the way, don't You dare give it someone who doesn't deserve it like I do! Lovely.
I know that ultimately my pursuit of Christ leads to eternal life, joy, peace and redemption of all my sorrows and sacrifices, but right now I am still on this earth. And I like to throw spiritual tantrums. Over the past several years, and especially in the past 12 months, I know Jesus has been very lovingly and with LOTS of grace asking me in regards to my earthly life, "Will you love Me without knowing? Will you relinquish control in order to follow me? Will you not demand a "WHY???" to every situation? Will you choose to have faith in My goodness, wisdom, and knowledge and rest in Me?"
And the thing is, on this earth, that's not an easy place to reside, even if you want to. Everything in me wars against that. Everything is me wants to know who, where, when and why!?!?!?!!?!?!?!? Now! It's a good thing I'm an over-thinker because daily I find these sneaky, subconscious, residual beliefs and must lay them down in preference of faith in Christ and His ways (convoluted as they may sometimes seem...).