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True Perfection, in Christ Alone

Have you ever felt an underlying nagging sense of shame or embarrassment? When you pause to think about it, you know you didn't do anything wrong, yet it feels like you have. If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone and there isn't something wrong with you. It just means there is a place inside of you the Lord wants to apply His truth so you can experience more of the abundant life He came to give you.

In Webster's Dictionary, shame is defined as "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety." For the sake of this blog post, I want to highlight the words shortcoming and perfection. The type of underlying shame I am focusing on today has to do with an underlying sense of falling short, not being good enough, or somehow missing the mark but not actually knowing how you missed it… it's just a nagging feeling. This nagging feeling can stem from various sources, but let's focus on the distinction between worldly and religious perfection versus perfection in Christ.

The word perfection also came to my mind when I was praying about this post. This underlying sense of falling short or needing to be better can come from many different places, not just our own ideas of perfection. It can be imposed by our environment and/or our experiences.

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus tells us, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." If we look at the verses before that (vs. 44-45), we can see that the perfection Jesus is talking about is living and responding to others in love, just as He Himself did and does. "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." The good news is our walk with Christ isn't about not making any mistakes, it's not about knowing everything, and it's not about having no weaknesses. It is about having a heart that seeks after His, wants what He wants, and as we allow Him to work in us, will do what He did when he walked on this earth. So this is perfection in the eyes of God–it's walking in His love.

So what is worldly and religious perfection? It's an ideal that does not tolerate or has little tolerance for weakness. It is one that will give you some time to get yourself together, but if you're not fixed quickly enough, it will turn away from you. It promotes covering up our weaknesses, hiding our shame, upholding standards that cannot be attained, and keeping us in the cycle of sin. Perfection in Christ encourages us to come to Him in our weakness so He can be our strength, release us from shame, and bring us into a place of freedom that breaks the cycle of sin. This all initiates the redemptive plan of Christ, that He gave His life on the cross to bring forth.

When faced with chronic shame, it is essential to reflect on what we believe about ourselves and what we perceive others' expectations to be. If our answers reflect a pursuit of worldly or religious perfection, we are encouraged to turn to the perfection found in Christ.

The next time you feel that nagging sense of shame, ask yourself, "what am I believing about myself" and "What do I believe others are expecting of me?" If your answer is worldly or religious perfection, I encourage you to turn to the perfection of Christ. You were and are first loved by Him, embraced by Him, accepted by Him, welcomed by Him, and He is the One who is calling you to come to Him in all your weakness so He can reveal His perfection through you.

- Amanda Sicher, LPC


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