got into an interesting conversation online last night, with someone who had posted a pretty text image with all kinds of supposedly inspiring and encouraging stuff, which I am sure came with very good intentions – why not make people feel better about themselves? that sounds so lovely and positive, so why does it bug me?
Imagine this scenario: you live in a comfortable house with all mod cons, you have clean clothes to wear every day, you can afford a hairdresser, you go around looking well-groomed, in neat and tidy clothes. You bump into a friend who has just come back from a very long and unpleasant journey in very uncivilised conditions. You can hardly recognise his face under the mud that has stuck to him along the way, his clothes are worn out and also covered in mud and… ooh, he smells of excrement :(
What is the loving thing to do? to say “hey, you look great!” or to say: “come to my place and have a nice long soak in the bath, and please borrow some of my clean clothes while I put yours in the laundry”?
One of the bits that bugged me in that text image was the bit that said “you are perfect” – I know very well that I’m not, I do look at myself in the mirror now and again (and I don’t mean physically), and while I appreciate the good intentions of someone trying to make me feel better about myself, I know that in the long run this isn’t helpful – what I really need is to have a bath, regularly. And that bath is available – to anyone who chooses to look at themselves realistically and acknowledge that they need it.
The Bible says that if we say we’re perfect (without sin) we are deceiving ourselves; but if we acknowledge the truth about ourselves and turn to God in repentance, he will forgive us and, not only that, but he will also cleanse us!
Telling people that they’re perfect means that, if they believe you, they will miss out on that wonderful, life-giving bath that God offers to us all, through Jesus.
As someone who has benefited from it, I want everyone to have it. I will not tell you that you smell of roses when you’re covered in mud and excrement – I will say: come to Jesus and be cleansed.
I don’t need to tell myself that I’m perfect – I don’t need to deceive myself in order to feel better about myself. I already know that God, the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, loves me – what more could I possibly need?
And that isn’t a boast, it’s just the truth about how God feels about each and every human being. Yes, you too. You don’t have to become perfect to earn his love. Come to him as you are. He loves you.