Do you want to know what the Christian life is, in a nutshell? It’s these two statements from the apostle Paul, the greatest Christian missionary, writer of most of the New Testament, and a guy who really speaks to me on a personal level.
First, he says this: Romans 7:14-15
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
Then later (later in the Bible, anyway) he says this: 1 Cor. 4:14-17
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
Got that? In one place, he says that he is a slave to sin; he knows what he should do, yet he still doesn’t do it.
But in another place, he says, in essence, “If you want to know how to behave like a Christian, then act like me.”
Is this crazy? Schizophrenic? Nope; it’s the distillation of the life of every Christian–a life spent pursuing an ideal while knowing we’ll fall short. Then after we fall, getting up and chasing after it again. And while we’re chasing and falling, we’re encouraging other people to chase and fall with us. And knowing the whole while that falling short of this ideal is infinitely better than grasping anything else.
So, if you’re a Christian, and you want to live as an example to others, but you feel like too much of a screw-up too much of the time, you are just living the same life that every other believer has lived, all the way back to Paul. Keep chasing, and keep urging others along.