Today I feel like the apostle Paul. Not because I’m holy, or because Jesus himself has appeared to me and caused me to be blind for a few days… That would be awesome and disturbing. No, I feel like Paul when he wrote to the church in Rome, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15).
You don’t need to know details, but suffice it to say that I’m as human as anyone else, and I struggle with sin just like everyone else. (This knowledge comes as something of a shock to some people who seem to think that pastors are perfect and have it all figured out.) Recently I’ve become more and more aware of this fact, and it’s starting to drive me a little crazy. It feels like I wake up every morning and say, “Okay God, I’m going to pursue You today. I’m going to give it my all and seek You first and foremost.” Then I almost invariably do something, or say something, or think something so that, by the time I walk into my office, I’m kicking myself for being such an idiot. Know the feeling?
I love that passage from Romans (it’s Romans 7:14-25). It’s not very eloquently written, is it? In fact, if you read it quickly and raise your voice a little bit at a time as you go through it, you’ll sound crazy. I know that’s how I feel when I meditate on it…
And that’s what I think God taught me today. If someone like the apostle Paul, whom God used to write about 1/3 of the whole New Testament, can feel this way, then why do I feel like I should be “past this”? Why do I kick myself and beat myself down for being human? I will always strive for perfection in the Holy Spirit, but is it really anything more than arrogance to expect to be able to attain it in this life? To quote the sage philosopher Cher Horowitz, “As if!”
Each of us who is in Christ is in the middle of a life-long process of being made new. Don’t fall into the same trap I’ve been falling into. Seek God with all your heart, but don’t beat yourself up when you fail. It’s going to happen. And that’s why God sent his son.