What’s your stance on perfection?
Do you think we should strive to be perfect or do you think that imperfection is OK?
What do you think the Scriptures teach in relation to perfection?
Every year God uses the Biblical Feasts to teach me something about myself, His Divinity or His plan for me, mankind, creation, this year going into Passover and approaching the Resurrection I thought I knew the lesson I was supposed to be learning – I knew in part. The day after Passover is always a Shabbat, which means a day of rest or more precisely a time of ceasing, this year I struggled to stop, you know rest particularly in my mind and as a consequence I became very frustrated with myself. I’m sure you probably know that feeling, that frustration you feel with yourself when you are failing to do something which you believe that you should be doing. Anyway, I was very upset with myself and lamenting my inability to take this set-apart day seriously only one day after my Saviour’s death, what type of Follower was I? And then it hit me, could this be how the disciples felt?
Up until the moment that their Master had died, the disciples had someone who could show them how to live out these ‘new’ teachings, show them the way whenever they looked like they were going astray and carefully guide and instruct them through both Word and deed, but now, no more. He was gone, laid behind a cold slab of stone and they were left with the brightness of a new day somehow trying to fit what they had received into the world they lived in. I think they must have thought “how do I do this? How do I carry on? Should I even carry on?” and I think it would have been normal to do so.
I can imagine their frustration as they stumbled through the day forgetting some of the ‘more simple’ teaching that Yahushua had taught them, falling into the traps of their old ways without a guide to lead them. I can imagine their frustration as they tried to do as He did only to fail and then berate and condemn themselves for lacking commitment and loyalty to the One who they claimed to love. And a thought creeps in “what if I’m failing because I don’t really want to succeed” and then, “am I better off sticking to my old ways then trying to continue in the new?”. Oh what agonising thoughts, enough fuel surely to drive them into a frenzy of soul-appeasing ‘good works’. Forgive me in my creative licence, I am just imagining how it may have been for those who had followed Yahushua only to be left behind and have to deal with life alone.
I think in our own journey as Believers we can come to that point where we look at where we are and where we feel we should be and think “is there any point in continuing, is there any hope in trying, should I turn back now?”. I feel that a lot of these feelings come from us not fully understanding and accepting the true meaning of Shabbat. Some weeks ago I began to hear the voice of my Daddy telling me that Shabbat is not about what I will get wrong, but about all the things I will get right/do well, just one word changed yet the shift in my perspective and understanding was HUGE. Abba is not waiting with a stick to beat me, judge me or condemn me for making mistakes, but HE IS waiting to clap with me, laugh with me and celebrate with me when I get something right, why? Because it is the manifestation of His perfecting work in me.
The truth is that I can’t force myself to ‘Shabbat’, the same way that the disciples couldn’t force themselves to be everything that they thought they needed to be to represent their Messiah. We don’t need Elohim to wield that big stick because we’re more than ready to beat ourselves with it! So this year, YHWH taught me that I don’t need to be perfect, in fact that I need to understand that I am IMPERFECT, this knowledge is CRUCIAL because true Shabbat comes from resting in and being transformed by His PERFECTION.
And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” I shall therefore joyfully boast in my sufferings, that the power of The Messiah may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12: 9 (Aramaic NT)
There was some crucial piece of awareness that the disciples lacked and which many of us lack today which keeps us striving to perfect ourselves: Grace and Truth.
For The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Yeshua The Messiah.
John 1: 17 (Aramaic NT)
It is the gift of grace (that which brings and manifests fullness of joy) and possession of truth (Divine revelation which brings us into the deepest presence of Elohim) which fills us with liberating joy and boldness to simply be, finally understanding that it is not about us and our meagre works but about Yahushua manifest and working within us. I know that there are so many Believers, people who truly love God who struggle with reconciling the concept of Shabbat with serving and following YHWH, somehow we believe that to serve means to constantly be ‘on duty’ but we are truly mistaken in our thinking. The only job description given to Believers is to abide, all that we can ever be, all that we can ever do, all that we can ever possess comes through abiding in Yahushua, we can add nothing, it has already ALL BEEN DONE.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15: 3-5 (ESV)
There may be some who say but doesn’t God expect us to be perfect, and to strive for anything less than perfection is a lie from the pit of hell! In Matthew 5 we see Yahushua teaching His disciples (talmidim) to be perfect as YHWH is perfect, what’s going on here, is Yahushua saying that we can be like God? Yes and no. It is impossible for man to be perfect and even try to perfect themselves, we would always find ourselves failing time and time again. True perfection is the result of entering into Shabbat and allowing YHWH to perfect us instead, He imputes and pours out His perfection into us so that we are made perfect in His eyes, no work that we could do merits this honour it is the simple work of the infinite love of God towards us through the precious blood of the Lamb. Yes we can be perfect by standing under His flow of perfection.
This is a beautiful lesson for me to learn as I commemorate the resurrection of my precious Yahushua, I don’t want this truth to slip me by so I pray whenever I feel like beating myself up that instead I remember that it’s OK for me to be imperfect, because as long as I abide in my Messiah YHWH will perfect that which concerns me (Psalm 138: 8).