Are you a perfectionist? Do you struggle living in a world that’s messy? Do feel a fairly constant state of failure as you regularly fall short of your own expectations for yourself? Do you feel chronically disappointed with or even contemptuous of the people around you–as they fail to live up to your standards?
It can be easy to view God the same way–after all, the Bible teaches us that God alone really is absolute perfection. So, he must feel the same way toward us as chronic screwups as we do toward ourselves, right?
Wrong, says Phillips.
True, God is Perfect in His Being, His purposes, His ways. But the notion that He is a perfectionist in the way we use the term to describe ourselves is false. In fact, the Gospel insists that human beings are far from perfect (sinners)–messy, rebellious screwups that need rescuing by a kind and gracious God. He doesn’t expect you to “clean up your act” in order to have a relationship with Him. He provides His perfect Son on our behalf to be our rescuer. He’s not a frowning cynic with his arms crossed scowling at the faithful. When He sees believers, He sees His Son–and His heart is filled with warm affection. The holiness He asks from us He doesn’t expect on the front end–He provides it by grace, and then we set out on a journey of constant growth as we learn from Jesus what true godliness looks like.
We may weaponize our standards against ourselves and others–but God does not. He generously gives us His Perfect Son.
Christians may truthfully say that is God’s “ambition” to possess the wholehearted love and loyalty of His children, but to imagine that He will have no dealings with them until they are prepared to give Him perfect devotion is just another manifestation of the “god of one hundred percent.”
God is truly Perfection, but He is no Perfectionist, and one hundred percent is not God.J.B. Phillips, Your God is Too Small, 32.