“For we have all sinned and fall short the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
When I was in high school, a movie came out called “Mean Girls.” It was about a group of popular girls at a high school, who are nicknamed “The Plastics.” On the outside, they appear flawless. Their outer appearance is always perfect; they seemingly have it all together – the right clothes, cars, boyfriends, and social life. As the movie title implies, even though they look pretty on the outside, they are not so nice on the inside.
“The Plastics” sometimes remind me of a lot of us Christians! Maybe not the “mean” part so much, but the plastic-y part for sure! By all appearances, we try to look perfect in every way. We always have a smile on our face, we are dressed in church-appropriate clothes, and we say and do all the “right things”. We put on a good show!
Deep down, however, you can still find all of our flaws and sins, and all of our struggles, as hard as we try to show the world that they aren’t there.
I knew two lovely ladies both going through difficult times. I asked them both how they were doing.
The first replied with a big smile and an upbeat tone, ““Oh just great, things are going well! Thank you for asking!”
We both knew what she was facing, but for my genuine concern, I was met with a very “plastic” answer!
When I asked the other lady how she was doing, she said, ““Some days are a lot harder than others. I am just trusting in God to help me through.”
With this honesty and transparency, her response was refreshing. She easily admitted that she was struggling, and because of her faith and trust in Jesus, she actually ended up encouraging my own faith life!
There is something really attractive to me about a Christ-follower who is not afraid to be exactly who they are – just a regular person, striving to know Jesus better, someone who is putting all their hope and trust in Him, despite their very real imperfections and tough circumstances.
I keep an actual list of sins that I struggle with. I don’t like having this list written down of my flaws, but when I read through them, I am always reminded that I fall short.
Does this mean that I justify my sinfulness and say “this is just who I am”?
This means that I admit that at times I can be judgmental, prideful, rude, mean, impatient….. (OK, you get the picture!) I am not going to just give in to these behaviours. My list is a reminder that I can do nothing to change who I am without God’s help. I am trusting in Jesus:
“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)
I am in the process of “being made holy.” Thankfully, I am not the person I was ten years ago when I first said “yes” to Jesus! I am also not the person I could be yet. I am in process.
As I continue in my relationship with Him, I trust that tomorrow, I will not be the same person I am today. I trust that I will have more patience, that I will be quicker to love and less quick to judge, that I will remember that I don’t have it all together, and that I should be loving, even to those who are not loving towards me.
King David is an incredible example of being “non-plastic”:
“For troubles without number surround me, my sins have over taken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails with in me…” (Psalm 40:12)
“Why are you downcast; O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)
I love how David (called “a man after God’s own heart,”) never sugarcoats his circumstances or his sin, and yet he stands firm in his trust and hope in God. He is honest, and he is real – honest about his many shortcomings, but also honest in his absolute dependence on God in spite of them.
If I don’t admit that I am sick or in trouble, how will anyone know to pray for me? If I don’t confess that my kids are driving me crazy today, how will anyone support me? If I don’t tell someone that I’m really struggling to resist sin in some area of my life, who will come to help me? Our bumpy circumstances don’t magically go away when we refuse to admit we need help. We need to confess our brokenness and go to God in prayer, and ask others to help us through, because none of us have this all figured out!
There is incredible beauty in our brokenness. The heart of the Gospel is ACKNOWLEDGING our sin, our weakness, our inadequacy – through our weakness God’s power is made perfect, so let’s avoid trying to cover it up with a big plastic smile when we’re having a rough time. Then, we can get the help and support we need, and can be there to help and support others too!