I'm not perfect and I am a Christian. **GASP**
It's true! I make mistakes constantly (everyone who knows me just let out a collective "mmhmmm!") I fall short of who I'd like to be daily, probably even hourly. I sin. Yep, I SIN and God still loves me! He loves me when I'm cranky. He loves me when I'm selfish. He loves me when I am outright disobedient and I do things that I know He doesn't approve of. HE LOVES THIS SINNER!
I didn't fully believe that until about a year ago. It's something that deeply hindered my walk with God, which is why I feel so compelled to share it publicly. I have prayed for my own salvation at least 4 times in my life. I'm talking walked up to the front of the church bawling, kneeled before the altar, and asked Jesus into my heart...4 times! I like to think that God was up in Heaven chuckling and knowingly shaking his head, thinking, "Girl, where do you think I have been? Don't you understand that the first time worked?" You see, once we ask God to be our Lord and Savior, He takes up permanent residency with us. No need to keep inviting Him to be our savior. We can't lose our salvation by sinning. God doesn't jump ship when things get dicey. He doesn't see the things we do wrong and run away. He loves us through it all. He sticks with us even when we don't believe that He possibly could. Even when we think He should have left us in our sin.
God knows that we are ALL imperfect. I was in a Beth Moore bible study last summer and heard something that spoke to my heart so deeply, probably because it seemed so contrary to what I THOUGHT I knew about God. She talked about the fact that God is NEVER disappointed in us. I thought, "Hold up, HUH? I do way lame stuff all the time and I'm sure He's probably about ready to give up on me." The truth is nothing we do shocks him or comes as a surprise. He is omniscient. He knows every detail of our lives from beginning to end. He knows every time I am going to sin from now until I'm standing face to face with Him. What I do is never a let down because He knows it's coming. Please don't misunderstand me, this is not a free pass to sin. God does not WANT me to sin. He simply knows that my free will leads me to make bad choices sometimes and He knows ahead of time what and when they will be. Beth talked about the excitement God must have every time we sin (stay with me here), thinking, "Fantastic! She only has to make that mistake 2 more times now! She's so close to really getting it!" That message unlocked some serious chains that were keeping me from enjoying my life with God.
I spent 30 years thinking that I was too sinful to really be saved and that at best I was just a huge failure in the eyes of God. I truly believed that in order to be a "Real Christian" I had to be perfect. It may sound silly, but I thought when I was saved "for reals" the Holy Spirit would come upon me and stop me from sinning from that point forward. Clearly THAT never happened, so my sin must have just been too much for God to want to take on. I can't express the freedom I felt when I finally got it. I don't have to be some perfect "Super Christian." In fact, I've come to realize that nobody is. Pastors are not perfect. That family in the front row at church, flawed! All the super amazing women I meet in Bible studies, sinners. We are all just human. We are ALL just sinners. Christians aren't called to BE CHRIST, to be completely without sin. We are called to love God and others, as we love ourselves. We are called to trust that God loves us enough to help us when we struggle with sin. We are called to have faith that when we sin He stands right there with us, loving us through it and patiently waiting for us to ask him for help.
The road to Heaven is not paved in the perfection of Christians. It's paved in God's love for us ALL and it is cushioned by His mercy and His grace. Know that when you ask God into your heart that mercy and grace is for you! He doesn't expect us to be perfect. He loves us just as we are, NO MATTER WHAT. I struggled for so long not truly understanding God's nature and I missed out on many years in relationship with Him because of that. I want to scream it from the mountain tops so nobody has to miss a single second of understanding God's love: God sees us as we are, sees our sinning nature, and still wants a relationship with us. He loves us more than we could even fully comprehend and His mercy and grace are big enough for every one of us!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9