Lately, perfectionism has been the topic of Deeper Waters. What is it with our desire? It is quite strange in light of the gospel of Christ. There is nothing strange about longing for perfection. We all do. The difference is, on what terms do we want perfection. Why do we also think it is needed? Are we determining our value based upon our closeness to perfection?
For some reason, we cannot accept ourselves if we find a flaw. If I look back over some life and find a past sin, and believe me, there is no shortage of those, I must systematically repent of it and go around in the sackcloth and ashes of the soul. It is often a wonder that I do not have literal sackcloth and ashes here to deal with my past sins.
How silly we are in that we forget that Christ already died for those sins and they’re already forgotten in the mind of God. I don’t think forgotten refers to a divine amnesia either no more than remembrance refers to regaining that which was lost in the mind of God or even in the talk of the day. Note that Joseph named one of his sons Manasseh because he had forgotten all the suffering he’d had in his father’s household. Obviously, he couldn’t say that if he had literally forgotten it. He had simply chosen to not focus on that suffering.
God chooses to not focus on our sins. Why do we? God wants to look at who we are. We look at what we do mainly, or in this case, did. Now there’s no wrong in remembering our past sins if we remember his grace with them. It’s when we don’t do that 2 Peter 1:9 even tells us that we should remember we have been cleansed from our past sins. Remembering the sins without remembering the grace is like remembering having a disease without being thankful today that you’re cured.
We all want this perfection badly and hate to see any reminder of imperfection. We must remember though that it is the plan of God to get us to be perfect. Remember what is said in Matthew 5:48. Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect. It is commanded of us, and we should seek that which is commanded, but have we forgotten the method whereby God seeks to make us perfect?
Consider what is repeatedly said in Leviticus. “Be holy, because I am holy.” Can we be holy? The Israelites tried and when they thought they had holiness, that was when YHWH showed up in their midsts and said that they were anything but. They looked good on the outside, but in keeping all of the externalities of the law, they had failed to keep the heart of the law.
What does God do then? He comes himself and gives them his holiness. He is practically saying “I will make you holy if you will come to me. The way you get holy is that I come to you and make you holy.” I often ponder that one of the purposes of the old covenant was to make us have to keep falling before God until we reached the point where we would say “I can’t do it! I need you!”
I think the same thing happens with perfection. God gives us his and the way to get perfect is to draw close to him for that. If we want to be wet, we get in water. If we want to be hot, we go where heat is. Why is it when we want to be perfect, we don’t go to him who is? Because we think we have to make ourselves perfect first? That is the glory of his plan. He makes us perfect so we can be perfect before him. The more we approach him, the more we find ourselves growing like him. The deeper you go in water, the wetter you get. The closer you get to the sun, the hotter you get. The closer you get to God, the more like him you become.
Why do we forget? Why do I forget? Because we, to be blunt, are quite often stupid. Imagine what it would be like if we could grasp for even a second the wonder that is the gospel. We call it good news, but do we live as if it is? Do we live as if it is true? Are we more prone to believe the father of lies than we are to believe the God of all truth?
You know the answer for you and I know it for me.