I suppose I’ve written about perfection before. It’s a recurring theme in my life. The search for perfection and the disappointment at not finding it and all that ensues. I have come to a couple of conclusions.
First, the search for perfection is not wrong. It’s sort of hard-wired into us, some of us, more than others. Somewhere in our hearts, there is an impression of what is good and pure and perfect and there is a longing to match that experience with everyday life. So we expect it from ourselves, our families, our friends, our work and the world around us.
Second, the disappointment is not wrong too, if it doesn’t turn into anything more toxic – like depression, cynicism, bitterness etc. To feel disappointed is human.
The question though is that who determines the standard for perfection? My standard is based on my life experience and so it is with all of us. There is no perfect way to score life and it’s many complexities. If you’re writing an exam and there are 100 questions, you could score a perfect result by knowing the 100 answers. Life is not that simple.
I hear the word “Christian” and my mind conjures up a picture of the perfect Christian. There are some things a Christian never does (in my tally sheet) – a Christian never cheats, a Christian is always sincere, a Christian has integrity and works hard, and so on. My tally sheet of a perfect Christian is based on my worldview and values that are important to me. And so I judge a Christian who is insincere or lies “as a bad witness.”
But today a novel thought occurred to me. In the last conversation Jesus had with his disciples, the night before he was betrayed by one of them, he said, “Love one another…By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Not by being perfect – whatever version of perfect we have, but by loving one another. The world is not waiting for a perfect person. The world is looking for perfect love. And that’s really hard.
Being a “good Christian” – not cheating, not lying, not stealing, being sincere, being thankful, being contented, being generous…these are the easy things. But loving those who are not those things and who think and proclaim that they are….that’s the hard part. And wait, according to Jesus, not loving them is actually what is really “a bad witness.”
We called to perfect our love for one another. Not to disconnect from the imperfect but to love them enough to call them to account (if possible), to lovingly deal with them, to pray for them, to refrain from being the judge over them and to love them through it all. Then the world will see and know that something is different and that they have encountered perfect love.