Over a week ago now, a talk on ‘Holiness’ was given at my church – and it was a really good reminder to me that Christians are called to be different. In the week before, I had read this passage by C.S. Lewis, which I think gets at the sort of ‘different’ we are meant to be very well:
When He said ‘Be perfect’, He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder – in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
When Lewis speaks of the ‘full treatment’ what he means is I think what is said in Romans 12:2, that we are to be ‘transformed by the renewing of [our] mind’. Taking the gospel at its word and being obedient, not going in for a compromise.
Siân, a friend I’ve mentioned before, said something in a college group meeting last year that has really stuck with me. She said that Christians are to do the exact opposite of the turn-of-phrase ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ (lots of egg mentions haha). Christians aren’t to be people who are ‘hedging their bets’ – we are to stake absolutely everything on the salvation we have in Jesus Christ.
Of course, the call to be perfect is not a call to perfectionism. The Bible very clearly tells us that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). No one can match what is written in the law, and we are not to depend on our own strength and become legalist as the Pharisees were. But the reality of our brokenness is also not to make us defeatist. Rather, we should be the muddy and tattered children that C.S. Lewis talks of here:
No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.
In other words, we are to give living as Jesus did, perfectly, the best go we can. And we are to rejoice that we have the Holy Spirit in us to guide us in this, and the grace there to catch us when we fail.