"You're Not Perfect. That's OK."
I live for getting good grades. So, I was fascinated to learn when I was being graded ‘on a curve.’ Grading on the curve means that the teacher adjusts the grades on a test so that she achieves a desired distribution of grades within the class, 20% ‘A’, for example. This approach gave me a fighting chance to score above my natural ability, to appear smarter than I really am.
And then I became a pastor. What I learned by listening to many people is that we sort of have this idea that God is the ‘Teacher in the Sky’ who grades on the curve. We think of ourselves, and those we love, in the context of ‘I am pretty good, good enough to get a passing grade from God, especially if you compare my life to his!’
That is a false view of God, I believe. I do not believe God is keeping score on our lives as a teacher grades a paper. Because God only knows one passing score: perfection. And last I checked, neither I nor anyone I know is perfect. No matter how much I try, no matter how big the curve, I will never get a perfect score if life is a test graded by God.
What is a true view of God? God not only isn’t grading our lives; God has forgotten our performance (at least the bad parts.) God says, “I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34) How can this be true? Because Jesus lived the perfect life. And then Jesus sacrificed his perfect life for our sins.
That is the Good News. Lent reminds us we are sinners. Holy Week reminds us that Jesus was not, and that on the Cross, Jesus made it possible for God to forgive and forget our sins. And that means that God looks at us through Christ, raising us up to be alive in Christ, today and forever.
God is not grading on the curve of humanity’s performance. God evaluates our lives based on the life and death of one person, Jesus Christ.
You are not perfect. That’s OK. This is why next Friday is Good; why Easter Sunday deserves our Alleluias. You don’t need to be perfect because Jesus is.