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Frustration in Trying to Live like Christ

Posted on August 3, 2020 at 3:25 PM

I didn’t stop sinning when I became a Christian. When I think of Christ’s blood, I think of that continual process of saving me from my sin. Martin Luther said, “The process has not yet finished.” Sometimes that is really frustrating for me. There is a gap between my longing and my living. I see our model Christ and I see myself and there is a discrepancy.  Isn't my frustration a normal part of the Christian life?

I appreciate your honesty for two reasons. One, I believe those feelings of frustration are common among Christians.  Two, I lived most of my life with similar feelings. I do not anymore. I can now say I am not frustrated and believe there is no reason for any Christian to experience those feelings. That is not because I have reached some state of enlightenment beyond others that has allowed me to close the gap you spoke of. Rather, I do not think the gap exists for Christians!

Frustration, by definition, implies that we are trying to accomplish something that is either impossible to do, or is not being done successfully by us. Your continued frustration results from the perceived gap between your expectations for yourself and your actual performance. The pattern of thought goes like this: Christ is our perfect example. It is our goal to be like Christ. We sin and are not perfect. We cannot be perfect. We can never be completely Christ-like on this earth. Therefore, we feel frustrated or even guilty a great deal of the time.

Given that the scenario above makes some sense and is widely taught, why do I say there should be no frustration? The answer is because there is no gap between Christ and us. When we are saved, we are brought into Jesus Christ and into relationship with God. We were saved completely then and are saved completely now. Any existing chasm was bridged by the blood when we were washed and saved. There is no longer a gap between deity and us. Jesus Christ has already crossed it (a little play on words). We are as saved now as we ever will be. We will be as saved at death as we were at baptism. No more, no less.

You talked about the continual process of salvation. That might sound reasonable. However, we can and probably should say that salvation happens once and is effective all our lives. It does not come as a process moving towards a completion. Christians are saved and live in the state of salvation. We have no need to be saved in the future, since we are presently saved. We cannot say we are in a process of being saved, because  that indicates salvation is not finished. Salvation, though, is complete in us now. We are not moving towards salvation or towards God, for that matter. Whenever we mention the word “process,” we are assuming the product has not been finished or that the full results have not been realized. You imply we are moving towards something better. To even believe in a gap between Jesus and us is to believe God demands or requests us to be better or more loving than we are right now. You and I do not really want to believe that about God. Yet, we do. We often think we must be better for God to love us, accept us, and save us. When do you or I expect to close the supposed gap? Tomorrow? When we die? No, Jesus Christ has already breached the wall. He is not going to cross some non-existing barrier in the future.

Frustration results from our longing to be perfect, as we claim Christ to be. We do not need to be perfect due to the effects of the blood and forgiveness, although we have a hard time accepting that. Frustration comes when we strive to be perfect but feel we are not accomplishing what God wants us to do. Fortunately, God is completely happy with us today just as we are. He is not requesting you, me, or any Christian to be perfect. We are completely in Christ at this very moment. We cannot be in Christ more tomorrow than we are today. There is no frustration because there is no gap between the perfect Christ and the imperfect us. We are not sinners. We are fully in Jesus Christ now. Salvation means rescue. We were rescued from sin and darkness so now we are out of those traps. We are not being rescued continually. We are in a rescued state and have been since we made the choice to grab the lifebuoy. We do not need to keep reaching for it over and over. 

A big problem for us comes because we are taught that our salvation event is merely a beginning.  That is why Luther and many others have said the process is not finished in us.  However, it is finished in us.  There are no requirements left in the future for us to complete our salvation and to bring us closer to God.  We need to understand the future never comes and is unreal.  The only thing that is important is where we are at this moment.  Thank God, we are in the Spirit!  We are in full relation with him right now.  The bond we have presently with Jesus Christ does not depend at all on what may or may not happen in the future.  That is true because any future actions or choices only affect the "present" moment of that day.  We are not in a state of frustration, because we are fully saved, sanctified, and purified right now.  Certainly, we want to be acting in the image of God today and will want to do the same tomorrow.  And we do.  Any failures or missteps are covered by the blood.  They were today and they will be tomorrow.  Again, what might happen tomorrow does not affect us one bit today.  We do not anticipate being accepted and approved by God tomorrow, because we are already saved and sanctified today.

If we are completely washed in the blood at this very moment, free of sin and free of guilt, how can we, in any sense, be frustrated?  Do we really believe our imperfection today or the sin committed today creates or widens a gulf between our Lord and us?  I don't think so, because that would be denying the power of the blood.  Do we contend that God is unhappy and disappointed with us today because we failed to live up with some ideal?  Again, unlikely, as that would be limiting the love of God and his friendship.  Frustration comes when we beat up ourselves and do not trust in forgiveness and love.

Categories: Erased: God's Complete Forgiveness of Sins