Releasing the Need for a Perfect Jesus

Posted: January 27, 2014 by Todd in Theology
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Solomon's Jesus

Traditional Christianity often teaches that Jesus was perfect and without sin.  The proclamation that Jesus is perfect and without sin isn’t something Jesus claimed of himself – in fact he denied it (Mark 10:18).  Rather, it is a doctrinal formulation of the church.  While, well-intentioned, and certainly a laudable statement of devotion and worship of Jesus, the urge to affirm such a doctrine of human perfection in Jesus reveals something broken about us. What’s worse, this doctrinal affirmation obscures this brokenness.

The desire for a doctrine of a perfect Jesus gives us something we unconsciously want for ourselves: an ideal standard by which we can judge ourselves.  But the standard isn’t realistic.  There are demons and dark places in our lives that we cannot fully conquer.  Most Christians, of course, would acknowledge that “we are all sinners,” but that God forgives our sin and that we should “go and sin no more.”  Our conception of grace is tied to the perfection of Jesus.  He did what we can’t seem to do.  Grace covers our butts when we, like Sisyphus, return to the bottom of the hill to try the impossible task of rolling the rock back up the hill again.  This impoverished view of grace tells us that we’ve got another opportunity to attempt the impossible task.  That’s not grace.

Rather than seeing who Jesus was though the lens of who we are not, we can experience grace more clearly when we release our need for a doctrine of a perfect Jesus. There are forces and urges within our selves that are out-of-step (at least as we understand them) with a perfect Jesus. Rather than willing ourselves to conquer these forces, or giving ourselves one-more-chance (or an infinite number of more chances) to overcome them, let’s apply grace directly to the underlying wounds that fuel what we call our imperfections and sin. Whatever the underlying wounds are that drive our imperfection, they need to be integrated into our lives more wholly. We need to claim them and treat them with care. Grace is the invitation to be whole, including our imperfections, and that this whole self is beautiful, divine work of art in the midst of creating itself.




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