I have been dwelling on this on and off over the past few months, especially as I struggle with a crippling addiction. We have a tendency to come to God to heal us, which is great, since He is the great healer. We forget, however, God’s standard for His children.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus finishes a lengthy discussion about a few laws with this, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus tells us that we are to be perfect, because God is perfect.
In “Mere Christianity”, C. S. Lewis states, “He warned us to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says ‘ if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that.'” That blows me away. We’ve come to Jesus for healing, whether it is of a physical or spiritual sickness, and when He does heal us, we think everything is done and He won’t do any more work on us. The sins that were a major nuisance are now taken care of, so Jesus can go ahead and leave us be. “As we say, ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.'”
That is what I’ve seen among a lot of Christians. They come to God, not for the gift of eternal fellowship with Jesus, but because they want to be better people, or at least a good person. That’s all well and good, because Christianity does work on the personality and can make you a better person, but it has to go beyond that. There needs to be a work of perfection, or purification.
“But I never asked for that!” I can just hear people saying that. When I started my journey with Jesus in order for help with a crippling addiction, I had never intended to go beyond that healing process. Now, here I am, still in the midst of the healing, but also finding myself more truthful, more responsible, more caring, more loving, more concerning (I can hear some of you laughing at that, but you have to admit, I have changed a bit). And none of this is my own doing. Yes, I chose to take the path, but Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, has been working in me to make these changes come about.
“‘You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect…'”
I have to say that while it scares me, I know that it is necessary. So, for those of you who say that grace will cover my sins and God does not ask for me to be perfect, think again. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” You are called to be perfect.
“If you give Him an inch, He will take a [mile]. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure you all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if you once call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.”
Keep that in mind before you decide to make this choice to go to God. He will do anything and everything to purify you, no matter what. Count the cost. If it is too high for you, then go a different way.
“We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out quite a different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.”