A few years ago I saw a lot of bumper stickers that said, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
At first glance, that sounds good. The person displaying that is recognizing that they are not better than someone who is not a Christian. It implies perhaps humility and a non-judgmental attitude toward others.
But I have never been comfortable with that. To me, it implies the only difference between a Christian and a non-believer is one has been forgiven and the other has not.
But is that really why Jesus came, suffered and died and rose again? So we could be forgiven. That’s it. The cross is just a “get out of hell” card.
Jesus said we were to be the “salt” and the “light” of the world. We may have different ideas what it means to be the salt and light of the world. Clearly, though, it indicates we are to be different than our culture. Different than others. Not in a “I’m better than you” attitude but in recognition that following Jesus should change us. One of our purposes of being “light” He said was that our life would bring glory to Him. That can only happen if our encounter with Him changes us.
But is change possible? Is being like Jesus an impossible task?
I would say while we can never be completely like Jesus in this life, it is a goal we should pursue. While we will probably never reach the point where we can say “I never sin” we must strive to not give in to sin with the excuse “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”
The disciple John told us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus has promised us help with this battle we fight. He said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”
God promises to both forgive us and to change us.
It is an ongoing process – and we will never be free of failures in this life – but we must not so easily give in to our temptations with that attitude – “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”