A friend and I discussed last night the tendency of evangelical Christianity to preach the inherent sinfulness of man, to make the claim that people, who experience grace, will be changed into something new. But the prospective pitfall of such belief is the realization that perfection (a worthy goal) is always just beyond our reach. So we become a people, impatient with seemingly impossible standards, who stop looking forward, start looking back, comparing ourselves to those who lag behind.
We define ourselves by what we’re not. And in the process, we become judgmental, self-satisfied with how much closer we are to perfection than the world’s sinners. We cultivate an attitude of intolerance, which makes us intolerable.
During this talk, there came to light another possible perspective. If we were created in God’s image, doesn’t it make sense that we are, at heart, perfect? That sinful nature — rather than a central problem — is nothing more than a veil we wear? If this is true, there remains no need for comparison to the world’s sinners. Instead of looking out, we must seek within, focus on the perfection with which we have already been gifted, the perfection that is masked (but never diminished) by our sin.
The path to holiness, then, becomes a letting go of petty possessions, dreams and desires. We strip ourselves of everything that isn’t us. And in this, we finally find the fullness of perfection to which we have been called and for which we were created.
This is freedom.
We define ourselves by what we’re not.