When I spent four years as an agnostic, having come out of being raised Christian, I kept a watchful eye on Christians. I was extremely surprised at how not really different from the rest of the world they were. If they believed in Jesus and really believed the significance of what he did for them, how are they not different? From that observation, I took the path of thought that led me to think that they must not really be Christians then.
I think there is a general expectation of Christians that they must be nearly perfect. They must be exemplary persons of the faith and the rules/laws/guides within. If they do not live up to that expectation, then Christianity is frowned upon and given a negative view. To a degree, I understand where this comes from. But, it is not a fair or accurate assessment.
Christianity very clearly recognizes the depraved state of people. Part of the core of the faith is to recognize that. But instant betterment or perfection is not required, nor is it expected. It is understood, and rightly so, as a life-long process. I would say that there should always be a striving for more progress, but everyone needs to start somewhere.
To become a great surgeon, you cannot simply decide to become one. You must go to school for many years, reading, studying, writing papers. You learn a lot in that time, but you cannot perfectly remember everything you read and studied. From there you might go to residency and continue learning and observing. It takes quite a while before you are even ready for your first minor surgery. Mastery is a very long way off, and even once you’ve reached that point, you never stop learning, and mistakes still happen.
So it is understood that to become a great surgeon, it is a very long process. So too is it with most other things, Christianity included. More understanding should be given to Christians in this way, though I don’t think that will ever change. Because of that, I think many Christians try too hard and pretend to be someone they are not. People see through that, and it only adds fuel to the fire of their negative view of Christianity. I think the best thing we can do is to be real and honest. We need to stop thinking or pretending we need to be perfect or the ideal example we think we need to be. I think others will actually find Christianity to be more realistic and intriguing if they see that it’s a continual process, that it is realistic in a broken world and not some fluffy spiritual weirdness, that it is hard, that it does not demand perfection, etc.
So to answer my blog post question: No. It doesn’t work that way. We all start from somewhere, we all struggle with different things, we all grow and progress at different rates and at different times, and in this life we will never be perfect or anywhere even close. That is the reality of the Christian faith.