Thought for the Day – 2nd September 2020
Perfection and wholeness – 1 John 4: 17-19
“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.”
Perfection and wholeness, how do we view them in our mind’s eye? Do we see someone who tries obsessively to do every job, large or small, without the slightest fault, so important does it become, that the job is done and done again, polished and repolished and never quite finished, this leads to a lifestyle of anxiety and frustration!.
But then, doesn’t the Bible talk about people of ‘perfect heart’? Doesn’t Jesus himself encourage his disciples to be perfect, as in Matthew 5:48? But what does the Bible actually mean by perfection and wholeness? We, as Christians, seem to be fond of dressing up our opinions as ‘God’s truth’, using dogmatism in order to cover up our insecurity. Briefly, the Old Testament seems to use ‘perfection’ in the sense of integrity and loyalty to the Lord. The New Testament usage implies maturity and completeness. But how do we ourselves use these words with their ‘perfectionist’ implications of living every detail of life faultlessly? Is this what we think wholeness is, if so then are we just striving to earn God’s approval to justify ourselves?
Wholeness lies in looking at ourselves, with all our faults, and accepting what we see, in love, because that’s what God does. Then we can spend our energies, not on striving for ‘perfection’ but in developing our relationships with the Lord and with each other. The clear-sighted but loving acceptance of ourselves doesn’t mean we should stop trying for better things, but it does mean that we can stop tearing ourselves - and others - to pieces with the destructiveness of criticism and daily guilt, and agonizing over details of our failure.
We must stop looking at ourselves, and others, and start looking at Jesus, because that’s where wholeness lies.
Lord, there are moments when we are dazzled by the wonder of your forgiveness. Our feelings and our lives awaken your concern, but in love, in Jesus Christ, you accept us and welcome us into your kingdom, and with all out faults we are made whole and perfect. Amen.