The Pretense of Perfection…

As this school year started for our family, part of the curriculum that Krista is doing includes a daily one year bible reading schedule.  We chose the “highlights” version of the plan that would allow us to read one chapter a day.  So we have all been doing that together, but individually.

Have you ever read Genesis?  Not for kids.

Oh my goodness, as I am reading through the first twenty chapters there is all kinds of things I am sure our kids are reading wide eyed wondering what in the world is that!  Noah’s ark includes everyone dying, drunkenness and nudity.  Abram sleeps with his servant at his wife’s request to bear them a child.  Later Abraham sends servant and child away to wander in the desert where Ishmael is left to die alone in the sun.  Abram tells a foreign king his wife is his sister, so the King takes her as his wife…until he finds out that he has taken another man’s wife.  Angels visit Sodom and Gomorrah and the men there visit Lot’s house because they want to have sex with the visitors.  Lot offers his two virgin daughters instead.  Later as God is destroying that town, Lot’s wife looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt.  And a little later incest and the birth the Amorites and Moabites.  Abraham lays his son Isaac on the alter to sacrifice him…

This is God’s Story?  Yes this is God’s story…As I was reading those stories the other morning I realized something.

I came to Jesus with a pretense of a perfect life.  That pretense lasted as long as the evils of the world stayed away, but when they touch my life personally it changes things.  I lose faith, I am hurt and I lose hope.  That Pretense of Perfection is a foundation Christians often establish our faith on…but it will only last so long.  For some of us a perfect Christian life will last longer than others.  It hurts when “the perfect” ends with something horrible.  The truth is that from the beginning God’s Story is full of horrific things.

In our lives as Christians there is hurt…divorce, abuse, drunkenness, infidelity, violence, sickness, etc…all of this happens.  We may be the perpetrator of such things, or even more difficult is when those things happen to us and we are the victims.  The Pretense of Perfection vanishes very quickly.  It hurts so bad.  We are left in a numb state, staring into the distance.  That can be a dark and lonely place.  But still God’s story is unfolding, as it has been unfolding for thousands of years.  Sin and evil men have been a part of that story from the beginning.

Ok….but how is any of this that you are writing helpful Chachi???

If we will shed that Pretense of Perfection from our minds it can help us to live in our realities.  It will help me to keep pushing past my hurts and those “not perfect” parts of my life story.  With those things that hurt in full view, I can still find my place in God’s Story.  I can and should continue to serve God with my life.  I’d rather not use the cliche “serve God warts and all” because some of these hurts aren’t justly illustrated by warts…it is worse than that.

Getting rid of that Pretense of Perfection doesn’t make the hurt go away.  And it should not stop us from ASKING God…For healing from abuse…To reconcile marriage…To find love again…To stop the sin in me…To heal sickness…for strength to keep on fighting.  In this imperfect world, God is with us.  The promise is not that we would not suffer…but God promised to be with us, to hold us.

“Held” by Natalie Grant (click lyrics to play on YouTube)

Sometimes things are ugly.  Being a Christian doesn’t gaurantee the ugly won’t affect us, we are not gauranteed a “Perfect Life”.  That is reality.  So many questions arise when the sinful ugly things of life affect us personally.  Why would God set things up this way?

Abraham-e-Isaac-sacrifican

I want to finish this thought by going back to all the ugliness in the beginning of God’s story.  Abraham was bringing his son up to the mountain to sacrifice him. (Genesis 22)  “Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’  ‘Yes my son?’  Abraham replied.  ‘The fire and wood are here,’  Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’  Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’  And the two of them went up together.”

A few verses later Isaac himself was bound up on the altar.  His father was raising a knife to kill him and sacrifice him.  What must Isaac have been thinking?!?

As Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the Lord called from heaven and stopped him.  Instead of sacrificing Isaac, a ram was there caught in the thicket. Abraham sacrificed the ram as a burnt offering.

Some have said this is the moment God was changing the brutality of human sacrifice.  A brutal sinful disgusting practice that was happening in that time as God’s story was unfolding.  That may be the case.  But that is not what the Bible says.

The Bible says, “But the Angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’  ‘here I am,’ he replied.  ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said.  ‘Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Lots of ugly questions are left there.  God tested Abraham like this to see if he feared Him?  Yes.  That is what God’s story says.

But as God’s story unfolds through history, thousands of years later what Abraham was stopped from doing, God did.  I imagine Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane had much of the same feelings that Isaac had when he was bound on the altar looking up to his father Abraham.

But this time Jesus went to the cross as a sacrifice for all our sins.  He died.  God experienced the hurt of this imperfect life in the most brutal way that could have ever been imagined.  God is with us.

The story did not end there.  Three days later Jesus resurrected from the dead.  Victory over sin and death.  Now, because of Jesus’ resurrection, those who know Jesus as savior are guaranteed eternal life.  Eternal life where sin and death (every one of those hurts!) are no more.

We are guaranteed Perfection.  It will be for eternity.  That is the pretense of my life as a Christian.  There is a Pretense of Perfection that I can live under…it is eternal life.

What a promise!  Amen.

-Chris Farrington

 

 

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