A friend of mine recently said something along these lines: The Holy Spirit has a huge job convincing people that they are perfect in Christ. I gave my approval, but I didn’t quite understand how profound her statement was before now.
It seems like there exists a common misunderstanding among many believers which says that God has to fix the parts of my personality that I don’t like. These personal traits make their presence known when we are facing some kind of affliction. We therefore assume that God leads us through these seasons in order to disclose the parts of us that need a fix.
When we are going through these periods we often experience some sort of condemnation which relates to our reactions and behavior. Wrongly we then think that The Holy Spirit is working in our lives to make us more like Jesus in terms of behavior.
The objective of these kinds of tribulations is, however, the opposite. God is showing us through them how deep the roots of condemnation go. When life is quiet and the world is smiling towards us it requires a simple act of faith to believe that we are perfect in Him. However, when the gale is coming our way our belief system is shaken.
When Jesus promised us liberty and an abundant life it is imperative that the roots of condemnation are exposed so that we can experience this quality of life. Condemnation cripples us, it robs us of our boldness and it makes life generally miserable. God cannot help us to accept the totality of His grace if we are not aware of these concealed roots which have found their way to the innermost places of our being. They can only be revealed when we are going through a tribulation which triggers patterns of reactions we despise and brings forth condemnation and shame. It is in this position of helplessness that the Holy Spirit can whisper His life-giving words to us.
We are in fact imitating Eve in the garden when we say that we are not perfect, and are in need of a fix. We really want to be good, and we often conclude that the new creation isn’t perfect to the degree we had expected. We want God to better us so that we can resemble the image of Jesus we carry in our minds. If Eve hadn’t found any faults with her being she wouldn’t have been tempted to eat from the wrong tree.
When God says we are perfect He wants us to be secure in this truth. He encourages us to accept every part of us as a perfect image of Him without having any remnants of condemnation. This is a profound mystery, because when we accept ourselves as He accepts and loves us we find that our consciousnesses are expanded to embrace the fact that we are in Him as He is in us. He is the rivers of living water which effortlessly flow out of our hearts.
It is on this background that we can be happy when we face an affliction, because its sole purpose is to liberate us from shame which ruin our relationship with God, and it empowers us to clearly hear our Father say: “This is my beloved daughter/son in whom I am well pleased.”