Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Perfect Mix

--
Perfect?

Nope . . . no perfection in sight, despite my many years of pursuing it.

Now what? Should I keep going? Give up? Should I stop pushing buttons and fine-tuning the dials and reconfiguring my settings to get closer to the "perfect mix" that eludes me? I hear that being a perfectionist can be unhealthy. On the other hand, I hear that many of the world's most effective and successful people are, at least to some degree, perfectionists.

What to do? What to DO?

Is there anything wrong with the pursuit of perfection? It couldn't be right to be in pursuit of IMperfection, now could it?  After all, it was in His sermon on the mount that Jesus went so far as to say, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48 NIV

Whoa!! So not just perfect, but PERFECT . . . like God-caliber PERFECTION!!  And here I thought I was discouraged by trying to be small-p perfect. How in the world?!!

What did Jesus mean by that? That was easy for Him to say--He was God, He already WAS perfect. But He said it to those less-than-perfect, ordinary people who listened to Him that day, and I'll bet they weren't too different from us. It would be cruel to expect people to do what they had no way to do, and that doesn't sound like the Jesus I know, so there has to be something more than meets the eye.

In the English, Jesus' words appear to be giving a command to be perfect right now just as God already is perfect. However, in Greek we get quite a different picture. The more distinct use in Greek of different tenses helps us understand more clearly. God's perfection is referred to in the present tense, and is indeed a present reality, an ongoing state of His being. Okay, what about us? When Jesus said the words rendered as, "Be perfect," in many translations, He used the future tense, which is described as the "certain occurrence of an event which has not yet occurred."  I think the New King James comes closest to reflecting these contrasting tenses, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48 NKJV 

One more little tidbit that comes out of looking at the different tenses in this verse--
this is not a command.  It might be better expressed as you shall be becoming perfect, and is framed as an action we take ourselves on our own behalf. That sounds a little bit like being a perfectionist to me. A perfectionist, but not the harmful kind, not the kind that interprets current evidence of imperfections as proof of inferiority or worthlessness.  Not at all! This kind of perfectionist sees imperfections through the eyes of hope and treats them as opportunities to learn and grow, knowing that perseverance in the pursuit of perfection will move a godly heart closer and closer to the character of Jesus until God Himself completes us in Him.

Great!!!  So when will this perfection arrive?

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." 1 John 3:2 NIV

When we see Jesus face to face, we SHALL finally be like Him, relieved of all our imperfections.  Until then, we can be in the process of becoming like Jesus, and at the same time being patient with not yet attaining the perfection we pursue.  So, as I continue to fine tune the dials and knobs and sliding controls that adjust me to His ways and His Word, I can do so with confidence that it is NOT an exercise in futility, and I don't have to get everything right TODAY!




I DO want to be perfect!!  I DO want to be like Jesus!!

It's okay to be a perfectionist as long as I don't expect to be perfect any time soon . . . 

AND
as long as I don't beat myself up for not being perfect yet (still working on that part)!!
Maybe THAT is the "perfect mix!"


How do you balance the pursuit of being like Christ with
the patience needed for the process?

(Just as an aside, I am not a Greek scholar by any stretch of the imagination. I only got to take 1 semester of New Testament Greek in Bible college and I may just be able to write the Greek alphabet on a good day.  The foregoing are observations made from that knowledge applied to information readily available in the Interlinear study tools at studylight.org and biblos.com if you want to look into it further, which I highly recommend that you do. Another good site for help with understanding the many facets of Greek tenses can be found here.)


Sliding in under the wire for Bonnie's Faith Jam:
and joining Emily for Imperfect Prose:

A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

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