How worrying about whether or not you're the perfect Christian makes it more difficult to be a good one


It's not hard to find ourselves obsessed with the pursuit of perfection. After all, we believe in a perfect God and we strive to be more like Him, and Jesus even said: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Matthew 5:48). But the key thing to remember is that we're working to be more like Him, not become equal to Him.

And when the above verse is looked at in context, what Jesus says can be understood as a command to love indiscriminately. This kind of unconditional love, a love extended to enemies and friends, is reminiscent of the perfect love that God has for us. It's not easy for us to imitate but it is possible, unlike perfection in all aspects of our being.

Breaking down the meaning of perfection in the context of our faith, as opposed to worldly interpretations, is a much healthier way to approach it. Our focus should be on embodying Christ-like characteristics by acting as Jesus instructed, not on trying to personify an unachievable ideal.

Here are two things that worrying about being the perfect Christian causes us to do:

Trade in the possible for the impossible
An unhealthy interest in whether or not we're the perfect Christian can lead to us concentrating more on our own need to meet this goal, than the needs of others around us. Because stand alone perfection is a state which is extremely difficult to define in real terms, the more we worry about embodying it, the less we concern ourselves with the very following the very clear example set by Jesus.

True forgiveness, unconditional love, faith and kindness are all qualities which we can develop and exercise, which in turn lead us closer to representing our perfect God. Essentially, starting with a focus on perfection is like trying to run before you've learnt how to walk. 

Crush our own confidence
When we aspire to become personally perfect, instead of looking to God, we start looking inwards and to others in order to define what we should be. God wants us to be confident and courageous, but this becomes challenging when our thoughts are concerned with how what we do and say fits into the loose and intangible framework of perfection.

And it can even cause us to become so disillusioned that we see no point in trying once we realise that it's something we can never personify. We're more likely to give up on something if we think that it's entirely unfeasible. We all know that being Christ-like isn't entirely unfeasible, but that being as perfect as Christ is, and worrying about being perfect causes us to confuse the two.