While speaking to a friend about her constant struggle with perfectionism, I asked her what she thinks she would be able to do if she was perfect that she can’t do now? She responded, “I could stop the same sins that I keep doing over and over again. I would be stronger.” This got me thinking. A lot! I often think this way and I don’t think I’m alone.
Is perfection really about strength? Is perfection about our ability to overcome and rightly behave? Hmmm…
So of course, I had to go to the Source. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gathsemane, He cried out to the Father to take such a terrible cup from Him. He was so grieved and distressed that He began to sweat blood. Crying out to God, expressing His frustration with His disciples, and experiencing anguish as He faced the most important moments of His earthly life, Jesus was far from a picture of strength and ability. He was in the turmoil of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) and yet He always came back to complete surrender to the Father. Three times He begged His Abba to spare Him the cross. Three times He surrendered His will. It was His surrender, not His lack of struggle, that made Him perfect. It was His willingness to be weak that marked His perfection.
I tend to think, intuitively, that perfection means I’m independently strong. But Jesus, fully human, and our example of what it looks like to be created in God’s image, was perfect because He was humble. Perfection is not our ability to overcome. Perfection is our ability to surrender. We must be willing to walk the path toward perfection, not by our striving efforts, but by our constant willingness to allow God to lead. Jesus, the Son of Man, did just that. He was perfect.
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48