I got to thinking about yesterday’s inspiration, and in the midst of playing Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Disciple Center’s on NES [yeah, man, I hadn’t played that in years! Good times!], it all started to follow together. I proceeded to come up with my most dynamic small group discussion ever–I was fairly well preachin’ it at the end of it all. 🙂
We’ve all known people that we thought were perfect in some way. Teachers often claim to have “perfect students”: the other students in the class usually snicker, knowing the corners their peers cut. Perfection is something that humanity can’t attain–if nothing else, millenia of existence have proven that for us.
Whenever presented with someone who’s purportedly perfect, we usually snicker a bit and then proceed to tear them down. As Jay Elias asked in his Weblog entry, “Why Are We Men Such F–king Children?”: “Why is a woman who would be unnaturally gorgeous at any age but is even more remarkable due to her youthful beauty in her mid-thirties made somehow less attractive because of something nature will do to every woman in the world?” He speaks of a knockout actress whose breasts are showing the effects of gravity.
I brought up this point to the guys in our group. I said, “If some hot girl walks by a group of guys, the first guy to speak will say, ‘Damn, she’s hot!’ The second guy to speak either agrees with the first, or he starts to tear her down with something like, ‘Yeah, well, her butt’s too big,’ or the most common complaint of sex-starved males, ‘Her breasts are too small.'” That’s the honest-to-goodness truth: we’ll take a beautiful woman and start tearing her down physically, using perceived imperfections and slights and just generally slap things all around until she’s ugly in our mind.
Elias further expands on this: “We take a perfectly gorgeous woman, and we rip her to shreds over the tiniest of defects. It’s cruel, practically abusive, to watch and sometimes even participate in the slow roasting of a girl at a bar who is all decked out for a Saturday night. We reduce her to the sum of her blemishes, brutalize the loose thread at the hem of her fabulous Betsey Johnson skirt or Max Mara top. And it bothers the shit out of me.”
I couldn’t exactly bring this up with the kids: they hadn’t read this article beforehand. I had, due to the fact that it was a finalist for an award at Diarist.net. But it led into my point: we don’t want perfection, even though we say we do. Hell, in perusing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, I did the exact same thing, despite the fact that my ugly mug will never attract women half as good looking as those ladies. 🙂
But what’s my point here? It’s that people aren’t perfect. We’ve seen this in the Bible all over the place. Matthew wrote down Jesus’s words on this very subject: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” [Mt. 7:1] The best example of why we shouldn’t judge are the Pharisees: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” [Mt. 23:1-3] … “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” [Mt. 23:13-15]
Is no one perfect? Paul says so in Romans: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Rom 3:21-24]
Paul’s a good case for this. I mean, this is the same man who was going around the Holy Land killing new members of “the Way”, which is what the movement of Jesus’s disciples was called before their arrival in Antioch, where the “Christian”, or “little Christ”, label came to be attached to them. Saul of Tarsus traveled around Jerusalem and Judea killing followers of the Way. He even received permission to chase them to Damascus. On the road there, though, Paul met his Lord and Savior; the story is recounted in Acts 9:1-19.
Here is the ultimate story of redemption: Saul was killing Christ’s followers, and yet Christ appeared to him and gave him the same grace that He gave everyone else at the cross. The worst of all persecutors became the best of the spreaders of the Gospel. Hallelujah.