I heard a song on the radio the other day making a pretty bold claim…
“No matter the hurt, or how deep the wound is, no matter the pain, still the truth is: The cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.”
(The song is called, Flawless, and it’s by the Christian band MercyMe)
It’s a bold claim sung to a catchy tune. But is it true?
Has the cross made me flawless?
I think that any Christian–Catholic or otherwise–will be the first to admit we are not perfect. We are all sinners! That’s why we need a Savior.
The song isn’t disputing this. As a Catholic, I believe that apart from Jesus and apart from the cross, I’m toast. I believe when the Bible tells me that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing– NOTHING! So when I “get it right,” it’s only by God’s grace. And when I get it wrong, it’s God’s grace that calls me back. I think the song and I are good on this front. All is grace.
Where the song and I hit a rough patch is its explanation of what that grace actually looks like in daily life.
The song continues:
“Could it possibly be that we simply can’t believe that this unconditional kind of love would be enough to take a filthy wretch like this and wrap him up in righteousness? But that’s exactly what He did.”
I think the music video for this song does a good job of illustrating this point further. In it, the band begins covered in gooey-gunk, and as the song progresses the gunk flies off of them until their suits are as white as the wall against which they are performing.
This is interspersed with images of Christians juxtaposed with phrases describing their “flaws.” Examples of these flaws include:
“prone to selfishness”
“Lives with guilt from reckless living”
“often puts work as priority over family”
Towards the end of the song, as the band gets cleaner and cleaner, these “flaws” are covered, one by one with, the word, “Flawless,” as the people smile from ear to ear.
The cross has made them “flawless.”
Is Jesus “Enough”?
The song’s claim is that what Jesus did on the cross was “enough to take a filthy wretch like [me] and wrap him up in righteousness.”
It’s a really nice thought, and I mean that wholeheartedly. The idea that Jesus loves us so much that He died for us, and that His love for us is so great that He doesn’t even care about all of the horrible ways in which we hurt Him, ourselves, and others. He just wants to wrap us— filthy and wretched us— up in His righteousness and welcome us into His Kingdom.
It really is a nice thought.
But it actually stops short of what I, as a Catholic, believe Jesus did—and continues to do— for me through dying the cross.
Not There Yet
“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name”
I’m prone to selfishness. I can be a little judgmental. I often have trouble trusting wholeheartedly in where God is leading me. These are just some examples of my own flaws.
Because of the cross, I know that I am not defined by these flaws. However, I also know through personal experience that these flaws didn’t suddenly go away the day I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I love Jesus and I want to be like Him, but I still find myself struggling with selfishness. I still find myself struggling to trust.
That’s what I believe the cross did, and what the cross continues to do in my life. The cross gives me the grace for the struggle. The cross gives meaning to the struggle. It gives me the grace to unite my struggle to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus doesn’t need for me to pretend my struggle doesn’t exist simply because I believe that He died for me. He actually wants me to struggle with Him, so that I may one day be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:17)
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24)
I believe that the cross is still in the process of making me flawless. I pray that one day I will be able to sing along with the joyful refrain of this song as I behold my God face to face in Heaven.
Until then, I’m still a work in progress.