Virtually Perfect

We use the word ‘virtual’ quite a lot nowdays. It’s taken on different meaning in modern life. We are attracted by the sense of a virtual world. It speaks of a kind of place which is almost real, but significantly different. We kind of like that.

A friend of mine told me today that he is ‘virtually’ tee total. It occurred to me later that being tee total is really an absolute – you either are, or you’re not. You can’t be ‘virtually’ tee total any more than you can be ‘virtually’ vegetarian.

If you eat meat or fish – any meat or fish – you’re not a vegetarian. If you drink alcohol – any alcohol – you’re not tee total. For me – being neither vegetarian or tee total – there’s nothing particularly wrong with being a meat eater or having the occasional drink, but this is about the fact that we really ought to be honest with ourselves about who we actually are.

It’s the same with perfection. You can’t be ‘virtually perfect’. If you have ever done anything wrong (and we all have) you are imperfect. Jesus lived around lots of people who thought themselves to be ‘virtually’ perfect. They thought that by strictly following religious rules, they could achieve perfection. He didn’t waste much time on them. Why? Because He knew who they really were. They were deceiving themselves, and each other, but they weren’t deceiving Him.

The Bible says that Jesus actually spent most of His time reaching out to ordinary people. Working people. The lonely. The sick. The outcast. People who knew that they were imperfect. People who weren’t at all sure that they were good enough. Real people. Like you. He knew who they really were. He saw into their hearts. He searched them, and He knew them. Jesus loved them in their imperfection. These are the people who Jesus wanted to do life with Him.

You might convince yourself that you’re something that you’re not. You might even convince other people. But you won’t convince Jesus. You can’t be a virtual Christian.  You’ll never be perfect, but you have to use all your heart, and all your soul, and all your strength, and all your mind, to follow Jesus. Jesus will never be convinced by your social media profile or the virtual image of yourself which you may successfully project to your friends. Why? Because He knows who you really are. He’s not interested in who or what you ‘virtually’ are. He knows you, the real you. And you – the real you – are the person He wants to be doing life with.

Lord, You have searched me. And You know me. (Psalm 139:1)

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. (Galatians 6:3)

Richard Jackson is the former Executive Director of Christian Charity Family Foundations Trust. He is exploring what it means to live as a Contemplative Evangelical.

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