Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Problem of Perfection (Unmindful Perfection Contrasted with Mindful Wholeness)

Ecce Homo (Behold the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 1...Image via Wikipedia

Most of the time when we think of the word perfection we tend to mean without defect or blemish.  Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48)."  We then are instantly confronted with the unreality of the statement be without defect or blemish as God is without defect or blemish.  When we examine our own lives moment by moment we reach a honest conclusion that we are not perfect (without defect or blemish).  This creates a problem with Christian mindfulness because you are either attempting to be something that you are not (nor can you be) or you are ignoring a very clear statement from Jesus.  Neither seem appealing, however I believe there are a great many Christians that live their lives in this tension. 

The problem lies not in the words of Christ nor in the impossibility of perfection.  The problem lies in our understanding of perfection.  Perfect had an original meaning of maturity or moral purity.  I need the source for this, but I read once that the word perfection changed as a result of the industrial revolution.  For example before the industrial revolution a perfect chair was one having four legs, aesthetically pleasing, and work of a craftsman.  After the industrial revolution a perfect chair was one that met particular specifications (without defect or blemish) and was exactly like the hundred that just came off the assembly line. 

An alternate meaning of perfect is complete (or whole).  In this passage the Greek word is teleios.  This word means to be complete in the thing it is referencing (age , growth, character). 

He (Jesus) personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, [growing] into mature man with a stature measured by Christ's fullness. Eph 4:11-13 (HCSB)

Note the last part "mature (teleios) man... ...Christ's fullness"  This is where wholeness and filling come together.  What is it that makes us whole (teleios)?  Is it not the filling that comes from Christ?  You see Christ's statement to "Be perfect" is not so much as to be without defect as it is to be filled with God's Holy Spirit.  In the context of the passage then Loving is perfected in you when you can love those that you dislike the most (enemies).  Not that loving your enemies makes you without defect, but rather loving your enemies (and everyone else for that matter) makes you whole as God is whole.  Why?  Because of the fullness of Christ according to Ephsians 4:23. 

In short stop striving to be without defect or blemish (ie striving to be like other homogonous fashionable happy Christians) and embrace the fullness of Christ.  Then you will be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.  This will be the genuine you (That God designed).  This will be "Christian Mindfulness."

God Bless You