“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Being the perfectionist that I am, this verse stressed me out when I read it for the first time. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my act together and do the right thing, so imagine the spike in my heart rate when I read Jesus Himself commanding me to be perfect!
I am painfully aware of my inability to be perfect no matter how disciplined I am or how hard I try. If only God's standard of perfection was measured by my performance in comparison to that coworker who curses or that friend that compulsively shops online; I’d be doing alright. But God is perfectly holy and He simply cannot tolerate a selfishly motivated action, a rude comment to my husband or stealing time browsing the internet while on the clock. The smallest transgression against God's holiness is enough to rightfully condemn every one of us to an eternity in hell, apart from God (Romans 3:23).
But God is incredibly kind and merciful. Knowing that our failure to live up to His required standard would forever keep us from a loving relationship with Him, He made another way for us to be with Him. He came down to us! Romans 5:8 tells us that "God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Jesus Christ Himself, God's beloved Son, was crushed on a cross bearing my disrespectful attitudes, jealousy and apathetic heart to satisfy God’s just wrath against my sin. In the Old Testament, blemish-free lambs and sacrifices were made to temporarily atone for the evil of the people, but they couldn't ultimately bridge the chasm between man and God. Only Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, could offer complete reconciliation! The part of this redemption story that brings tears of joy to my eyes is not just the awe-inspiring forgiveness and sacrificial love displayed at the cross, but the divine resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:4 says that on the third day God raised Christ back to life and that by faith in Him we too can have new life in Him.
Life in Christ means I am united with Him and that His very perfection and righteousness is attributed to me! Heavenly music to a perfectionist's ears! God declares me righteous, not by my own efforts or anxious toil, but by simply trusting in Jesus and what He has done. Jesus loves me and chose to set His seal of righteousness on me so that I could have friendship with Him forever! This is the truth that gives me hope, joy and peace every morning as I struggle to grasp the length and breadth and width of God's love for me. And it is Christ's love that compels me to serve my husband, write and record songs, lead worship, disciple other women, fight against modern day slavery and share the Gospel with my neighbor. I am learning that every gift God has given me is simply a tool to share the life-giving truth of His grace!
You can download Joy’s music on iTunes or buy her latest album, Set Free, at www.joyhanna.com. All proceeds go to International Justice Mission, a global organization protecting the poor from violence in the developing world.
Whatever it is God has purposed for you to do, He gave you all you need to accomplish it through Christ. I hope Joy's words inspire you to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus. He loves you so very much. More #LiveChosen stories are coming...don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!