The Bible assumes sincerity. Certain instructions in the Bible assume sincerity – like a chemical reaction. Don’t be surprised if there is no spectacular chemistry when you are dealing with poor grade Christians. No, Christians were not perfect in that day either BUT they were closer to the epicentre of Christian action. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever! So Christ Himself still has the same potency as He ever had. However the extent to which He can work in people’s lives depends on the people. So if people do not get close to Jesus -then you have poor grade Christians.
BUT you still have to obey your husband!
Most systems are still viable even with some corruption within them. For instance could I ever claim that my body is “perfectly” healthy? And yet even with minor aches and pains, sniffles, it still functions beautifully. This is why it annoys me when people start talking about “perfection” whenever I am talking about character as if any character whatsoever automatically demands “perfection”: No-one is insisting on perfection. It annoys me when people act as if any desire for excellent character automatically equates to an insistence on “perfection”. Because we know that no-one will ever be perfect. But looking for instance at a human body, we know that it does not have to be “perfect” to actually work.
My essential characteristics are like asking for a heart that is beating, a brain that is still generating brainwaves. This is not being fussy! These are fundamental aspects of a human body! Just because someone’s heart is beating does not mean that they are “perfect”. It merely means that they are viable as human beings!
This is what it is like with character. The things I am asking for: striving after Christ, having a heart for Jesus – are the bare minimum! And yet they are so rare. Perhaps many so called “Christians” are so used to having dead bodies strewn all over the place that it becomes exceptional, unthinkable, to actually ask for someone who is alive in Christ.
So people falsely equate character with “perfection”, as if to expect character at all is to insist on “perfection”. So the flip side of that seems to be this: “if character equates to perfection, and we know that no-one can be perfect, then you might as well accept that it is unrealistic to expect anyone to have character at all – so you may as well put up with the shoddy behaviour of the people around you! As if the only alternative to utterly unattainable “perfection” is shoddy mediocrity. As if it is not possible to be less than perfect – but still outstanding, as we are supposed to be. As the Apostle Paul was – or are you going to claim he was perfect? And the Apostles Peter? James? John? “Well to all intents and purposes…” NO! They were not perfect. Only Jesus has been perfect as a human being. All the others, yes, including the Apostle Paul were flawed human beings and remained flawed human beings and yet the excellence that they attained in character represents what we could also attain, if we would be as sincere in pursuing Christ as they were. In fact, this might sound quasi-blasphemous, but we do not even need to be limited by the levels of character or holiness that these Apostles attained. Remember Jesus is the same as He always was. As are God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Conversely, the devil is also the same. So if there is a difference between us and the early disciples, it is not because the power of God has been diluted between then and now. Conversely, it is not because the devil has grown more crafty or more powerful. (Although to listen to some Christians, they seem to think this…) The difference between them and us must be because of us! Something that they did that we are not doing, or something that we do that they are not doing – or a combination of the above
And people say this, or imply it – “good” Christian people, all the time. Invariably until the point where I am fed up. If asking for character is as unattainable as asking for perfection, then yes, Mr Huggie-Wuggie has to be perfect. There, I’ve finally said it! If you think that having a heart that is beating, and organs that are functioning equate to being “perfect”, then yes, he has to be resoundingly and uncompromisingly perfect.
So Christians, please stop making this false analogy. If other people talk endlessly about “perfection” in terms of their lives, or their aspirations for their lives: “perfect marriage…family…home….career…etc” – then I never do. Stop trying to make excuses for the resounding mediocrity of your character by endlessly comparing yourself to “perfection” which we all know is impossible to attain, and rather start explaining why your faith consistently fails to resemble anything that is even alive, or the vibrancy of the faith of the early Christians.