Perils of Perfectionism Part 2
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (Romans 12:2).”
Over the years we (the community at Alpine) have had some great discussions on how perfectionism influences our lives. One important truth has come to the surface over and over again. It is important to base our identities in how God sees us, not the way we or our culture view us. The discovery of who we are is an important step in the development of our faith. Knowing who we are helps us to resist the pressure to find our identities in the ideals and images that our culture puts upon us. There seems to be two important lies that all too often people accept. 1) is that we need to be perfect to be accepted by God and 2) that God will judge us by the standards that our world does. If the world around us concludes that we are failures, then surely God will as well. This verse in Romans helps us understand that God is working to help reshape our thinking. To help us understand that God sees us in an entirely different way. God does not think that our value is based on our accomplishments or our ability to meet the fleeting standards of beauty found on magazine covers. God wants us to see with a different set of eyes that are guided by a world view that God gives us.
What is also clear form this verse is that we can muck up the process of God transforming us by clinging to desires to copy the behavior and customs of this world. In our stubbornness to enjoy or experience life (as our culture around us does) we sacrifice the opportunity to be touched by God. We have been called to stand out. To be different. To give hope to this world by demonstrating that there is another way to live. A better way to treat people then the shallow ways that are prevalent in our world. This calls for us to let go or sacrifice the desire to live up to the standards of this world and adapt a different set of goals, practices, and ideals that God has given us. I realize that this is difficult. We have become accustomed to living in a certain way, and it is usually easier in the short term to just continue going with the flow. It takes courage to make changes. It takes a deep sense of honesty to examine ourselves and admit that we need God’s help. Challenging the way we or others think can be messy. People can get defensive and strike back. But this is precisely who Jesus is and what he was about. Jesus challenged the way people simply accepted the truths that were told to them. The choices they made and how they lived their lives. He did this because Jesus had intimate knowledge that there was a much better way to live. The challenge we have today is to follow Paul’s encouragement. Let go off our desires to cling to the customs of our culture and allow God to change the way we think. To change the way we view ourselves and others, thereby freeing us to live wide open lives. Lives that are able to love others deeply and profoundly.