On Not Being Perfect

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All serious spiritual seekers will carry some version of Jacob’s limp or Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” It is often, but not always, physical, and it will show fully our weakness and humanity, at the same time as a deep well of grace. This is how we each carry the Christ wound.

For this reason alone, we should not look to the veneered teeth glinting in the spray-tanned face, but to the “scum of the earth” apostles (as described in 1 Corinthians 4), who preach God’s love from sickbeds, wheelchairs, poverty, crutches, depression and whilst admitting to their battle with alcohol, anger or jealousy. One of my favourite teachers, Brennan Manning, called us all in our loved imperfection, “ragamuffins.”

Broken preachers, who know their own brokenness well, who are unafraid of it, talk, not of their perfection, nor of how we might emulate them; but of how suffering and living in this hurting world can offer a gateway into knowing God and his unimaginable love. They know that instead of having reached the top of the ladder, they have learned how to stand at the bottom, holding it steady for others.

Jesus told us to “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) but before we gallop off into striving to be flawless, we should know that the word perfect here in the Greek is teleioi/teleios, the sense of which is much more about being mature and whole, literally “fully-developed,” than without fault. It is, as I understand it, an encouragement to be ourselves, to grow into completion, to be the best you or the best me that we can be. We can follow this instruction whilst still carrying an awareness of our sins and a desire to change.

Frequently the cross we each bear is the knowing of our own failings, and the resurrection life that we embody (crucially at the same time) allows God to shine through them. Like the risen Christ before Thomas, we can say, here, see for yourself: “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27 NIV)   My wounds are real, our teachers say with Christ, but even more astonishing is the new life that God has given me through them, and not in spite of them.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt Photo from Pixabay

 

4 thoughts on “On Not Being Perfect

  1. blindzanygirl

    Oh my! This is exactly what I have been trying to convey for a long time. You say it so perfectly. I am blind, sick, and wheelchair bound following serious cancer, and my state is permanent. I know the “thorn in the flesh”, the “strength in weakness”, but also the upside downness of people’s attitudes towards this. I would rather be like this than whole in body and wanting in spirit. Without having had cancer and being like this I would not be the person I am today. Nothing to look at, but with an innermoeace and joy, and strength in weakness, like the stripped tree in autumn. Thankyou for writing this. It speaks of my life

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi blindzanygirl, I am touched that you found this rang true. What a great many burdens you are bearing, I am sorry for all the pain, and the inevitable misunderstanding that comes along with being so different. I am chronically sick, mostly housebound and use a wheelchair, so I know a little of what you mean about strength in weakness. Another article you might be interested in that I wrote was a testimony about not being healed. I will put the link here if I can find it! God bless you, Keren http://godspacelight.com/2016/03/04/20-years/

      Liked by 1 person

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