Perfection has lost its perfection.
The word perfection is one of those words that has lost its meaning. Things like:
This is perfect…Find the perfect fit…The perfect way to lose weight
It seems the word perfect can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In a society that wants to test and measure everything, perfection has to be obtainable. This could be why it always seems that we are judged on perfection. Because truly, we have not done something well unless we have done it perfect.
In chapter 5 Greg Boyd dives into what it means to live a life of love perfectly.
I had a friend in college who spent hours playing Super Mario Bros. Why? Obviously its a classic game that many could play for hours, but his reason for playing was obsession. He obsessed over beating Super Mario Bros as fast as possible. In fact, he used a stop watch to time himself, would record himself playing, and often would gather a crowd of individuals to watch how fast he could go. I remember watching little mario run through each level dodging ducks and jumping over gaps. As my friend guided mario through warp zones and battles with bowser the only thing that stood in his way of perfection was death. In fact, my friend died a lot, well at least mario died. But you would think that my friend died a small death each time mario fell off the cliff. For my friend, the only way to “perfection” was to have nothing go wrong. I wonder, as Christians, how many of us live the same way my friend tried to guide mario through life?
At what age do you figure out that you are not perfect? For most of my childhood the only thing I was concerned about was playing sports, eating ice cream, and building forts. But at some point, I realized that I had defects, that I was different from others and that in fact I had things wrong with me. My favorite hair cut as a kid was “the spike.” This is where you take your hair and gel it straight up in the air. For all you visual people. just picture a porcupine type haircut. As a kid I would request “the spike” all the time, only to be disappointed that my hair would not cooperate. I am one of the lucky few that have a calic and widows peak smack dab in the front of my hair. In other words, my hair did what it wanted and never formed “the spike” just the way I wanted it to look. I think that was the moment, at age 9, that I realized that I was not perfect, that there was something wrong with me. I was not perfect, in fact I was flawed.
My biggest problem and struggle with Christianity is that I do not have all the answers. I am a planner, and therefore I like to have all the details. When I am unable to figure everything out I get frustrated.
I love what Greg Boyd had to say about this type of “problem” on pg 100:
For the challenge of living in the Kingdom is not about figuring it out. There’s really nothing to figure out! The challenge, rather, is in submitting to it.
Boyd goes on to make the point that the quest to understand often distracts us from the greatness commandment of them all, living a life of love.
I think Boyd has hit on something…well…perfect. Living a life that is distracted by details can only be lived in the way of being overwhelmed. Not only that, it is a life that can never be quenched, never have enough, and never satisfy the desire of happiness. But it is a way of living, because the pursuit is always there, this type of life always gives us something to go after. Living a life of love is different though. It is not perfect, in fact it is messy. It is filled with things that are very unclear, unmeasurable, and unpredictable. It is a life that calls for all to give up control and let go of the details and ideas of perfection, and in turn accepts a life of living for the perfect one.
The challenge, then, is not first and foremost to love like Christ. The challenge is to live in Christ’s love, for only then can we love as Christ loved.
And in fact that is our challenge, to live a life in Christ love inside each present moment.
You know what was the hardest level for my friend to beat in Super Mario Bros? It was the first level. I know that sounds crazy, that is the easiest level in the game. But for my friend the game was won or loss in the first couple minutes of his adventure. The reason that level were so hard for him to complete was he often overlooked it. Instead of focusing on the present situation that mario was in, he was more focused on the future levels.
If there was one thing that I learned from reading chapter 5 from Greg Boyd is that you have to live in the present before you can get to the future.
Great post Kyle, seems if we can just take “perfect” off the table we'll be able to truly enjoy what's before us and learn to work with/around pesky calics instead of spending all our time on fixing them. Less figuring more being.
I like that last part, less figuring more being. Exactly right
I love the distinction Boyd makes between learning about the kingdom–and thinking that in learning you are living in the fkingdom–vs. living in the kingdom by submitting to it. This book helped me see how to submit–every thought captive–every minute/hour/day. WOW. and no one is perfect in doing this.But what a challenge to how I live.
Terrific post Kyle – I, too, am a perfectionist … and yet being a Christian is something that we'll never be able to perfect. I guess a “perfect Christian” is sort of an oxymoron when you start to think about it. It's only in realizing how imperfect we are that we can truly surrender.
I'm with Kyle on this… I love that last statement… less figuring more being. We need to quit over-thinking our lives and just 'be'.
That's a great point Kathy! Knowledge about something doesn't mean that you actually experience it. I can know a lot about Starbucks, but I don't truly experience it until I walk in and get a cup of coffee. That stepping out (or submitting to) is key…
Oooohhh… good point about the oxymoron! Totally agree!