Any perfectionists out there? Put your hands up now. Any at all? Oh, this is the internet. You’re all sitting in a bath towel on a laptop on the couch with both hands up.
Well, God wants you to repent. That’s right. Change your wicked ways.
Oh, I know, perfectionism is a crutch we use to sound perfect. What’s my sin? Perfectionism. Meaning I’m awesome.
My personal downfall? I work too hard. That’s my weakness.
It sounds very nice and we get puffed up as we think about all the real sinners out there and how we’re not one of them. We’re just some good ‘ole blue collar, sleeves-rolled Christians who get too greasy doing the work because we don’t know when to quit. That’s not so bad, right?
In fact, it’s a gold star. Here stands a perfectionist. Perfect in every way except for being too perfect.
But that’s not the way it is.
What if I told you you’ve believed the wrong gospel? That you’re glumly following the wrong God.
That you’re bound for failure, burn-out, disillusionment, and worst of all, taking a cross up a hill to die for yourself there, like a thief who tried to steal God’s opportunity to be Savior and got caught, and is destined to beg to see him in Paradise (which of course he’ll say yes) a few feet away from a guy who should be dying for you.
‘Cuz God wants you to rest. Chill. Relax. Stop. Cease.
He is perfect. And he’s very good at it, thank you. Your perfect consists of busy, scurrying, worry-some, frustrating-inducing nail-biting. His consists of peace. Chill. Actually, there’s no way for you to reach his Perfect through your perfectionism. The Bible calls that death.
The only way for you to reach it is, ironically, through his Chill. The Bible calls that rest. It’s one of the best-kept secrets of the Bible. Meaning it’s one of the things we don’t talk about.
The only way for you to reach God’s peace is through his perfectionism, not yours.
In Sit, Walk, Stand, Watchman Nee writes, “Adam was created on the sixth day…. God’s seventh day was, in fact, Adam’s first. Whereas God worked six days and then enjoyed his sabbath rest, Adam began his life with the sabbath.”
A little later he drives it home with this shocker — “It was because God’s work of creation was truly complete that Adam’s life could begin with rest.”
You have not been called to a gospel of work. You’ve been called to a gospel of rest. A gospel of it is truly complete.
The worst part, I hate to break it to your perfectionist side, is the parts that are perfectionistic, that can’t let little things go and have to strive strive strive to walk the moral tightrope of your own meticulous standards — those are the godless parts.
Do you know that the gospel Christ came and died for, and then rose again, is of him working and you resting and enjoying it?
And here’s the real question, and we can shut the blog down for the day — do you believe God has completed that work?
Or do you need to add to it to give him a few self perfection-thieves to die next to?
The Bible says, “Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”
We twist it to add, “and I dang well better be the best the rest of my life to pay it all back.”
Here’s the problem with that gospel.
Jesus died so his perfection could pay for your and my rest, so we could enjoy this life thing with him forever.
Exactly the same as at creation. God worked for six days to rest on the seventh and enjoy his creation — you. At the cross, it was as finished as creation. Now we only live in the seventh. We live in rest.
Offer him your perfectionist, guilt-ridden goody-two-shoe-ness as part of the formula and it doesn’t compute, it doesn’t fit that gospel. It makes you god.
You living in perfectionism now is as offensive to God as working on the sabbath day was in the Old Testament.
So what is rest?
It’s not taking a long snooze in front of cartoons. It’s you being you. No strings. Existing. Playing. Enjoying. Living where you really love who you are. With NO PRESSURE.
It’s life in the garden with God like in the beginning (but with clothes). It’s Mary ducking Martha to get to Jesus, Christ coming for the sick, not sniffly-nose-fakers, kids playing in Jesus’ lap while everyone is all stressed about when the real ministry is going to happen.
Here’s a hint: it happened.
We don’t need an eternally unraveling honey-do list from the sky. Or 99 rules to follow now that you’re obligated to the salvation you’ve just won.
And if you find yourself getting more and more sick of your perfectionism, cut it loose. Stop pretending to be a doctor with your own broke stethoscope that can’t even get an accurate reading on your condition, and just be sick for once. Chill in his arms, chug 7-Up, and watch re-runs.
Because life finds healing not from paying off your debt one stress faith day at a time, but resting in Him. And from that perspective, well… it’s just perfect.