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Thoughts on Perfection

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Thoughts on Perfection

Revolworks

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
— 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

Perfection is like a prison. We start out laboring to achieve it, but end up in bondage. The perfection we seek is an illusion. But when the TRUE perfect comes, the partial things will fade away. I have strived for perfection my whole life. I know personally how much of a prison this pursuit can become. Unfortunately, I’ve also expected the same of my wife and kids. In doing so, I inevitably set them up for failure because perfection is an unattainable goal. Instead of doing good, this expectation ends up hurting my relationship with them. I’m grateful to the Lord that He has helped them mostly recover from my mistakes.

The scriptures talk about perfection in the Old Testament in a very specific context: the law. For example, Psalms 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” Seldom do the scriptures talk about a person being perfect. Rather, the New Testament talks about how wonderfully imperfect we are. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) especially highlights the fact that the Lord fully loves and embraces our imperfection. For example, rather than blessing those who uphold the law perfectly and never sin, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.“ There are three words used for “poor” in Greek, each denoting a certain degree of poverty. The word used in this occasion refers to the most poverty stricken level or the poorest of the poor.  This word refers to a person who has to beg for everything. Instead of rebuking or cursing these people, Jesus turns around and he calls them Blessed. He takes the people who have to beg for what they get and puts them over his kingdom. It’s an amazing thing to understand. It’s a counter cultural phenomenon. Rather than putting the best of the best over his kingdom, he lifts up the weakest people with nothing to give. It’s His joy to bless them.

When we strive for perfection, it’s almost like deciding, “I’m not going to go out to these social occasions, unless my hair is perfect. I mean not even one hair out of place!” Of course, this thinking is ridiculous. It keeps us from enjoying fullness of life and fullness of relationships.  We can never be perfect by earthly or cultural standards.  But yet Jesus says “You are to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Does this mean we fall short? No, Jesus is saying that we are to be perfect because He is making us perfect in His image. Not here and now, but on a spiritual level, in the eternal perspective. This is a process. And when perfection Himself finally does come, our partial imperfections will be done away.

Brad

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