A refutation of Christian perfectionism
Listen as you read:
Pursuit of the ideal
The human enterprise of compelling one's self or others to assume the form of an ideal is a task that has proven over and over to be too great. Imposing an ideal onto oneself forces the soul to become three things: the interpreter of the ideal, the voice of authority on how to enforce the ideal, and the slave to the ideal. A prison of continual correction. So fixated on this process, that they themselves, become a tyranny over their own lives and the lives around them. Becoming the ideal is too high of a call, too untouchable, and for Heaven’s sake, should remain untouchable.
In the Christian sense, the ideal is the God of the Bible. However, in other realms of life, such as in the "world", the ideal can be any other god that brings people a sense of purpose or represents the highest form of something we admire. We have a propensity to seek an ideal as well as to worship an ideal, I believe, because we are created to be deeply attracted to our Creator. The pursuit of an ideal is holy, but the desire to grasp and become the ideal is idolatry. It is worship of self, worship of the human potential. An inward Tower of Babel.
What is the purpose of an ideal?
Developing a relationship with God and devoting one’s self to being near to Him brings one closer to holiness. However, the desire to impose and force the ideal onto your own human soul is too great to bear. It turns oneself so inward that you inevitably become self-consumed, transforming yourself into your own ecosystem of observation and course correction, rather than becoming free of one’s self and one’s darkness by approaching what is true light; that is God. We cannot absolve ourselves of our own nature. It is the approaching of the mountain where fear and trembling of something bigger than oneself that truly shakes the unclean off of our lives.
Grace & worship
Grace is therefore necessary, and a necessary component to one’s salvation because of our inability, and if I dare to say, forbiddeness to become the ideal. We don’t want to become God, we want to be like Him, in the same way that our children desire to mirror our actions as parents.
Worshipping God and coming into proximity with the ideal is what transforms. In the fact that "we only know that we know", our hearts must first experience the love we are called to exhibit. It must first benefit from the peace that we are called to bring to the world. Without experiencing Heaven, we cannot even approach the notion of becoming like it.
In our pursuit of experiencing Heaven, we are also greatly humbled in our knowledge of being so far from it. And in that humility we are able to achieve greater depths of the experience of Christ and His perfection. In the acknowledgment of our weakness, our eyes open to what true strength is. The longer our hearts are nailed to humility, the more time we have in approximation to the The Crucified One, and the more time we stay in approximation to Him, the more we look like Him.
If we want to look like Jesus, we first have to start at acknowledging how much we don’t look like Him.
The pain of grace is the acknowledgment of how much you don’t deserve it. Without the embrace of that notion, we are short-circuiting our path to being anything like Him.