Let Me Keep My Bar Low!

August 16, 2012

Friends,
Last Saturday my husband and I went to a really nice Half-Price Bookstore and were browsing in the Bible-helps section. Since I was looking to find a book to help me with basic Greek, and we were talking aloud about this, another guy who was there chimed in. This progressed to a lively discussion between the guy (I’ll call him Andy) and me about theological viewpoints and the effects of them on churches and individuals. My husband, who is much less inclined to talk with strangers, but supports me in my joy in doing so, eased away. And since Andy had already declared his displeasure with the OSAS false doctrine, I thought the conversation would continue to be enjoyable. But it did not.

For one thing, Andy dominated the conversation. I realized he saw it as an opportunity to teach me what he knew and was eager to find points of difference with me so that he could continue to teach me. I never like to deliberately run with differences, though of course they are often unavoidable when out witnessing, but even so, I like to accentuate our similar views first. Then, if the other person is willing to listen to my beliefs and reasons (verses), then I can listen to his, and there can be an atmosphere created for Spirit-led learning and ministry, as well as for God’s love to be exhibited and His name glorified.

The main point of contention came when Andy saw that I believed born-anew people have the power in them to daily practice to be perfectly Christ-like, as would a person aiming for an Olympic gold medal. “Oh no,” he argued. “We can never even come close, so why discourage others by teaching such an expectation?” I countered that to not expect a Spirit-indwelt person to continually aim for perfection is like telling an aspiring athlete that he can never be perfect. –And that though failures will sometimes happen, it is not something we should very often discuss. What should be discussed is the goal, and the goal is most definitely, every moment, perfection. I gave him the analogy of the Olympic pole-vaulter. “Should we, as spiritual Olympic pole-vaulters trying to skillfully sail over the perfection bar, tell ourselves we can never do it? Or should we keep practicing, trying to make it over every time?” What did Andy believe about that? He said, “Your bar is too high.” I answered, “Your bar is too low.”

When I wanted to leave, Andy accused me by saying, “Yea, when I corner someone, and they have no answer, they just walk away.” I wanted to say, “No, they likely walk away because you talk right over a person and refuse to even attempt to hear them out. Of course they must give up.” But what I really said was just, “Good-bye.”

Andy called after me in a condescending way, “Keep studying.”

Well, I started looking for my husband, but to no avail. –Until I remembered that he’d said he was going to go sit down and read. I finally realized he must’ve meant by the coffee tables, so I went that way. Guess who was sitting across from him in debate? Uh-huh –Andy. I just plopped down next to my husband and laid my head on his shoulder, muttering, “I need to eat.” They conversed for a while longer and then we excused ourselves. But, as later told to me by my husband, here’s the best part: After I’d said good-bye to Andy the first time, he promptly found my husband, walked up to him as he sat at the table reading, and asked, “Does your wife really believe we are to aim for spiritual perfection?”

My husband looked up at him, and with reading glasses perched on his nose, he answered, “Why wouldn’t we aim for that?”

Andy sat down and said, “Well, that’d be ‘works’.”

My husband explained that we are not saved by works, but by the obedience which comes by faith. And that obedience is not about laying in an Olympic pool and doing nothing, but about striving to do our very best in whatever God’s will for us is. Perfection is therefore the objective, the purpose, the goal, the aim. Without this aim, people would lay around lazily and never care about being obedient to God, pleasing Him, or doing their utmost best to walk in His will and further His glory and Kingdom.

About here is where I came up, sat down, and was able to listen as my husband answered, undeniably by the Spirit’s help, all of Andy’s “trick” questions. He answered that to pray constantly meant to have, through the Spirit, a continual flow of communion with the Lord. He answered that to not read the Bible daily is not necessarily sin, but that a person who loves to fellowship with the Lord would feel a sense of loss if he couldn’t read it. He likened healthy fellowship between us and God to a good marriage, and that the more we loved, the more often we’d desire to be in one another’s company.

Well anyway, we thought it sad that here was just one more “Christian”, even one who considered himself a Bible scholar, who did not want to believe “he couldn’t help but sin.” He couldn’t stand that two people were demolishing his idol of “Must Sin Daily” by raising the holiness bar and telling him that his expectations of himself were way too low. For he wanted them low! So do most of the masses. But they will be sorely sorry come Judgement Day. For there we all will indeed be judged on what we did, said, and thought. We will indeed be judged by our works –that is, if we obeyed God’s Word, will, and Spirit.

I still smile about what my husband answered Andy when he came up to him and asked, “Does your wife really believe we are to aim for spiritual perfection?”

I just love my husband’s wise reply: “Why wouldn’t we aim for that?”

Yes, “Christians” out there, “Why wouldn’t we?”

Those who are being honest would have to answer: “The only reason I would not aim for spiritual perfection is because I just so love to sin.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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