June 26, 2011

Being Perfect? Nope, Being Perfectly Human

I've had a couple of people question me about this blog's title: "No one can be perfect! Only Jesus was perfect!, etc." The misunderstanding comes from two sides; misunderstanding the nature of Christ in relation to our own nature, and misunderstanding the meaning of the words "perfect" and "human", and how they modify each other.

To use a definition of 'human' that reaches farther than an anthropologist's definition means that we must include all of our weaknesses and shortfalls in that definition. We make honest mistakes, lots of them. We willfully choose to do things based solely on our emotions, instead of facts. We have trouble empathizing with others and base decisions that seem right at the time, but turn out to be wrong. I could spend days adding to that list and still never finish. All of this, our triumphs and our failures, are integral to our "humanness."

If you do some research into the Hebrew and Greek words that are generally translated in the Bible as a form of the word "perfect", you'll find that the original meaning is as much, if not more, of being 'complete' rather than 'flawless.' None of us can ever be flawless in this life, but we can be complete. Also, if we look at the phrase 'Being Perfectly Human" in this light, we can easily see that we can be perfectly human. Even if we wish to use 'flawless' as our definition of 'perfect' we can be flawlessly human, because the reality of being human includes all the mistakes and shortcomings of our being; the word 'human' is modifying the word 'perfect' rather than the other way around. ( I don't know about all of you, but those thoughts makes me feel a little bit better about myself.)

As to the question of understanding Christ's nature compared to our nature, we only need to look at the part that directly affects our our daily lives. Countless debates and dissertations have come down through the past two millennia on the subject of passibility of God. While that subject is of great philosophical interest to me and many others, it really doesn't have a very big effect on how I live my life relating to my fellow humans. All I need to know in this regard is that Jesus was Perfect. Period. End of sentence. Being fully God and fully human makes him something vastly beyond us, matters of passibility notwithstanding.

So why all of this focus on "Being Perfectly Human?" For decades, I spent my life in the pursuit of being imperfectly human. I ran from the possibilities available to me, and hid within the safety and surety of my failings. I avoided the fullness of loving to avoid the associated risk of pain. I tried to deny my innate need for with God and my fellow man. Today, living with the large chunk of my being ripped out of me from living my life imperfectly and limited is no longer acceptable. I want the fullness of being perfectly human, with all of the risks and rewards that come with it. And I believe that is a large part of how God would have me live, because accepting the fullness of my human condition brings me a greater appreciation of His glory and grace given to us.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, the first step toward attempting to be "perfect" or Christ like, is being honest with yourself. So many people consider themselves to be honest people but it is impossible for them because they lie to themselves constantly. How many times do you deceive yourself into doing something that you know you should not do but you convince yourself that it is ok? It's more than just will power, because some people with a seemingly excellent ability of a strong will, can be labeled hard headed. Being hard headed is not a good example for others and can cause others to stumble. I have no answer. What I can honestly say about myself is that I try, the best that I can, day by day to be the best human/christian/wife/mother/employee.....etc etc that I can be. Just a thought to throw out there. Night.