Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Perfectly Complete

{Below is a re-post of a blog I wrote for my students a couple of years ago.  It is worth repeating, as the thoughts about perfection here have recently resurfaced for me.  I hope it will bless you as you enter into this Lenten Season.}

God is fascinating. Really. I am constantly amazed by His creativity. It is astounding to me how He gives us both free will and miracles. How He manages to be present and active in our daily lives without forcing Himself upon us will ever and always amaze and bless me. There are times when He seems so far away and times (like this week) when He has felt ever-so-near. Both have the capacity to strengthen and bless us because God is just like that. Amazing. Wonderful. Creative. Indescribable.

One of the surest ways for God to speak to me is through conversation with others. I had a series of conversations with a couple of people yesterday that truly blessed me. Actually, it sort of started as eavesdropping. I wasn't trying to overhear, I just happened to be in the workroom while a conversation was happening about perfection. I overheard two people talking about our standard and need for perfection. They were talking about trying to encourage people in their lives to strive for excellence, not perfection.

I couldn't resist chiming in, so I peeked my head around the corner. I mentioned that in the New Testament (Greek) the word for "perfect," actually means "complete." We started talking about what that meant and I soon found myself in the middle of a conversation that I needed to have. I joined the conversation to share a little insight and gained much more for myself. I was reminded of my own perfectionist tendencies (at an all-time high these days...) and sensed God speaking to me through my own words and this conversation with others.

What I said to the two other women was that to be "perfect" is simply to be "complete" in Christ. This is Christian perfection. God requires it of us because He knows what is best for us. Nothing else will satisfy. But we've made perfection into something we attain on our own. This should not be. I was reminded of this yesterday and freed once again from the tyranny of striving for perfection apart from Christ.

I left the conversation already feeling blessed and went back to my office. I pulled out my devotional to read for the day. You can guess the theme for the day: perfection. God is so cool. I'll leave you with these words from Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning.

"You know, in spite of the fact that Christianity speaks of the cross, redemption, and sin, we're unwilling to admit failure in our lives. Why? Partially, I guess because it's human nature's defense mechanism against its own inadequacies. But even more so, it's because of the successful image our culture demands of us. There are some real problems with projecting the perfect image. First of all, it's simply not true. We are not always happy, optimistic, in command. Second, projecting the flawless image keeps us from reaching people who feel we just wouldn't understand them. And third, even if we could live a life with no conflict, suffering, or mistakes, it would be a shallow existence. The Christian with depth is the person who has failed and who has learned to live with his failure."

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