Perfect people are imaginary. They are a legend either in their own minds or the minds of those they have beguiled or both. Nevertheless, their perfection is not real. It’s a strange characteristic of our time that so many pursue and worship perfection when it takes very little thinking to conclude that such devotion to an imaginary notion is worthless. Yet we want the perfect life, the perfect partner, and the perfect body for us and all to see. Life isn’t about perfection or bragging about it, so we all end up disappointed.
The apostle Paul knew he had a problem with perfection; “I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. . . . I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.” (2 Corinthians 12:1,5-7) Paul knew the danger of boasting; “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (v. 8)
Perfection goes to our head and bloats the ego. Pride is perfection’s self-appreciation. Selfishness and perfection go hand in hand. Perfection is self-reliant and entitled to the best, the easiest and the most. Perfection is the proud mindset of western society. We are the best, have the most, want the most and deserve to have it all because we have so much. Paul knew that such a mindset was an affront to God, even though he prayed for God to allow him to be perfect; “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [the thorn] away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8,9) God’s grace will not cover our perfection but will cover our weakness!
Jesus Himself would not claim to being perfectly good. When the rich young man addressed Him as such He replied; “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) Jesus knew better than anyone, that to be human was to be weak and less than perfect. Something the entitled young man couldn’t see about himself and wouldn’t accept even from Jesus.
When we confess our failings and we embrace Jesus with all of our strength, a miracle happens. We become strong in Him; “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
Our thorn nails us to His cross.