It’s finals week for me and while I don’t have any actual exams, I’ve got plenty of writing to do. One of my final assignments for Honors is a 10-page reflection letter in which I (you guessed it) reflect on my semester and what I’ve learned over the past 15 weeks.
I’m about four pages into this letter, and yesterday, I wrote a sentence down that made me stop and think: A genuine relationship with me means more to God than perfection.
As someone who’s been a perfectionist since she was a child, this truth hit home. I try so hard to be the “best” Christian I can be. I want to love others, serve, pray, read scripture, evangelize, and be more like Jesus. My issue is that I forget that Jesus is perfect, so I don’t have to be. While Jesus came and set an example for us through His own actions, His ultimate purpose was to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Mark 10:45 states, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
When we forget that our faith is all about having a personal relationship with our Creator and Savior, our faith becomes a religion. I’ve watched this play out in my own life more times than I can count.
It’s when I forget about this relationship that I start to feel that pressure and obligation to perform. All of a sudden, I feel as though I’m not spending enough time reading scripture, journaling, praying, serving, etc. I start to examine my every action, patting myself on the back for doing the right thing and scolding myself when I do the wrong thing (or fail to do the right thing).
And before I know it, I’ve made my relationship with Christ a rulebook to follow. But friends, that’s not what following Jesus is about. I can try with all my might to be loving, kind, patient, selfless, and all the other things I’m not. But without Jesus, I’ll inevitably fail.
The key to being more like Jesus is not to try harder when we fail, but to build our relationship with Him by learning to listen and simply rest in His presence. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Apart from Him we can do nothing. We can’t bear fruit on our own; we can’t change on our own. True transformation comes from surrendering to Jesus and building that relationship. It’s not a matter of trying to be better, but simply wanting to grow in our knowledge and love of Jesus.
This week, I encourage you to make some time to abide with Jesus. This could be a number of things:
- You could go on a walk and listen to worship music.
- During your morning or evening quiet time, you could turn on some ambient music (I recommend William Augusto, who creates Christian ambient music) and reflect on a psalm or Bible verse that God has placed on your heart.
- Spend some time after you read scripture to listen quietly what God might be saying to you, praying continually with Him.
- Journal on a specific verse or passage that grabbed your attention after reading scripture.
- Even playing worship music in the car and singing along is a wonderful way to abide with Jesus.
Some of these suggestions are more in-depth or require more effort than others, but I hope you’ll consider trying some of them out. It’s so easy to become self-reliant when we forget about God, and this is often where the pressure to be perfect stems from.
But remember, we serve a God overflowing with grace, love, and mercy for His creation. Don’t just gloss over those words (I’m sure you’ve heard them thousands of times before) — really let them sink in.
I hope you experience God’s peace this week by abiding with Him and knowing He doesn’t want perfection from you; He wants your heart.
Grace and peace,