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Expecting perfection yet loving unconditionally



By LAUREN MARTIN

We often say in The Salvation Army that we are in the ‘business of transformation’, and most certainly, we know that God’s heart is to transform lives, families and communities and that he calls us to join him in his work.


But what does that actually mean? And if God doesn’t need me (which is certainly true) but he wants me in his Great Commission ... what am I supposed to be doing?

I often call myself a ‘Christian realist’. I’m a passionate follower of Jesus, but it’s got to mean something quite tangible for me to consider it worthwhile.


I vividly remember my ‘conversion experience’. After probably months of ignoring the pull of the Holy Spirit to recognise and enter into the reality of Jesus, God hammered it home during a General John Gowans sermon at a Commissioning event (remember the ones at Darling Harbour in Sydney?).


I was a snotty mess, and the lovely Salvationist sitting next to me told me she didn’t need her hankie back! I recall being cranky at God afterwards and almost challenging him that if I was going to become a ‘Christian’ against my will, it had ‘gosh-darn’ (I think I used different words at the time) better be worth it!


Fast forward a few decades and, by golly, it has been – but not without my dogged determination to truly experience God and try and work out what it means to follow him.

So, when terms are bandied about, like the fact that we need to ‘partner with what God’s already doing’ and ‘join him on his mission’, I’m all in for it, but the journalist and realist in me tends to ask a few questions. Questions like, “How does God bring about transformation in people, and how the heck can I possibly assist?”

The fact that Jesus sees perfection in me is mind-blowing and allows me to be brave enough to take steps of faith towards that best – knowing that when I fail, he loves me regardless.

Well, we’re supposed to love people unconditionally, right? Absolutely. Love without judgement. That’s the Jesus way.

But I think there’s more.

When I think of God, I get a sense of his perfection, awesomeness, power, and glory. Mind-blowing! He created us perfect in his image, and – in a paradoxical way that can only work with God – he expects perfection from us yet knows it won’t happen and loves us regardless.


Jesus, God’s image in humanity, operated the same way. He called out people’s best – yet never shamed or blamed when less than the best was delivered. Jesus calls people continually to follow him and take steps closer to being the people we are created to be.


When I think of God, I get a sense of his perfection, awesomeness, power, and glory, says Lauren.

The fact that Jesus sees perfection in me is mind-blowing and allows me to be brave enough to take steps of faith towards that best – knowing that when I fail, he loves me regardless.

That’s the type of Jesus follower God calls me to be! Asking God to show me his perfect creation in everyone I meet and call out people’s best, allowing them to see a clearer vision of the people they are created to be.


Imagine what can happen when broken people are given permission ‘have a go’ by a follower of Jesus who can see the best in them and will love them, regardless of their failures? Never blaming or shaming but shining a light on God’s preferred future for lives, families and communities.

That’s what God does for us, and you’d have to agree it’s transformational. What a transformational gift we can give others if we do the same!



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