In a recent sermon, Andy Stanley pointed out the difference between the real and the ideal. We all have our conceptions about how our lives should be, but the reality quite often falls far short of what we have pictured in our minds. Our families are messed up. The workplace is chaotic. There is unrest and lawlessness in many communities. Even the church is not spared from this disparity between what is real and what is ideal. Because we live in a fallen, sinful world, we will never escape the tension that comes from facing things as they are, knowing that they are not as they should be.
Jesus came to this world to show us the ideal. He never lowered the bar, but constantly raised the standard in his teachings. Jesus knows that we fall short of perfection, but he wants us to set our sights higher. He died for our sins, but he gives us his Holy Spirit to enable us to live our lives on a higher plane.
The temptation is to settle for less than what we can be because we can’t be perfect. This must not be an option! Let us face our reality with open eyes, but let us also strive for the ideals that Jesus sets forth in his Word.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”—John 17:15-19.