“Practically Perfect in Everyway”
Mary Poppins magical tape measures her to be “Practically perfect in every way”, which begs the question what is “perfect”? Shel Silverstein’s character “Mary Hume” tries to judge this very question with an “Almost perfect…but not quite” to everything she assesses, only to have her final judgment at the pearly gates to be: “Almost perfect…but not quite” (Silverstein, A Light in the Attic).
As Christians we are called to righteousness to the degree of perfection, knowing that we always are going to get Mary Hume’s “…but not quite” at the end. We are called to be the best self we can possibly be at all times; not just on days we are at church or serving at a church function. We are called to strive to live the way Jesus did all the time, even when no one else is looking.
At this point you might be asking “so what defines perfection?” or “where can I get a firm definition of something as seemingly subjective as perfection?” Pointing to Jesus is a good start, but let’s start a little more basic than that…the Ten Commandments. The Commandments are the nuts and bolts of what God calls us to be like. When asked which the greatest commandment, Jesus responded, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength”. He goes on to tell us the second greatest, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31). Now that is a tall order, isn’t it…and that’s just two of the commandments.
Love God: I can try and do that, but all my heart, soul, mind and strength? What about my family, my dog, and…football, oh and my neighbor…He said to love my neighbor? We are called to not put any of these things before God; more specifically we are to love them through God. By loving God wholly, we are able to love all other things far better because God, when we allow Him, filters out all that is not good in the things we love. The first four commandments are all about this relationship with God; summed up they are to love God, love no other Idols (even football) before Him, to never use His name in vain (Yes this includes “OMG”), and to keep the sabbath day holy.
So far, I am not doing so well on this test, how about you? I am running about 50 percent. Ok, so next is the remaining six commandments: Honor your parents (“love you, Mom and Dad”), Don’t Murder (haven’t killed anyone yet), No Adultery (this can even be in the mind, without the physical), No Stealing (do pens from work count?), No lying (even little white lies?), and do not envy (but that car is so cool). These all point to how we are to love one another and that is not just our own social circle either.
As Christians, we all generally try hard to not do these things; at least not often. However, we are all broken and as such, we will always reach those gates and hear “almost perfect…but not quite”. So, that brings us back to Jesus, it is only through Him that we are washed clean and made acceptable; not by our own merits, but by the grace that comes from His. Thank you, God, for allowing me the way to be perfected through your son Jesus, for I know I cannot do it alone.