What does it mean to be perfect? Is it even possible? My friend, Mike explained it to me this way, “Think of a number scale from 1 to 10,” he said, “most of us would say that to be perfect in any endeavor is to always be a 10; to be any less number is to be slightly imperfect.”
I know, for myself, as I look back over my art; the drawings, paintings and prints I have done over the years, there were a couple 8’s a few 7’s and lots of other much less numbers, but I cannot say there has ever been a 10. Does this mean I’m imperfect as an artist? Will I ever be a 10?
Mike went on to say, “What if we looked at it from a biblical perspective? Perfection then looks like this: showing up. Biblical perfection then, is to show up everyday and not quit, and over time you will see yourself becoming more and more who you were created to be.”
Jesus says that we should “be perfect… as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) What does he mean by this? How is my heavenly Father perfect? Earlier in the passage Jesus is telling his followers to not only greet their friends and people who are like them, but also to show love to their enemies and those who are less desirable. Jesus knows we are all works in progress. Every one of us. Our heavenly Father always shows up to us. He always shows up to give love and grace to every one of us.
To be perfect like my heavenly Father, then, is to always show up.
To be perfect in exercising is not so much about the results; a perfect body, really? Show up to exercise every day (or at least every other day).
To be perfect in art, I must show up to my easel, my sketchbook every day.
To be a perfect writer, I must show up to my notebook or keyboard every day.
I really don’t like for people to look at my art while it’s still in progress. The beginning of the work is often full of energy and excitement, so I don’t mind people seeing that. I am often pretty stoked about it so even the start of it looks pretty good to me. But there’s a place where the work becomes tedious and I start to lose momentum, it can sometimes look pretty ugly. It can become like an enemy to me; something less desirable. I may even want to give up on it at this point. That part of the work I often want to hide, I don’t want people to see it, it is far from where I envisioned it to be.
I counsel myself during this stage, “Don’t judge an unfinished work.” There will come a day when the piece will be finished and put on display for all to see. That is when the work is judged or evaluated, this is the time when the work is open to interpretation or critique… or purchase. Perfection for me in this is to show up to my art every day; to not give up on it.
We are all works of art, God is the creator and he has a vision for us in mind. He is fashioning us into the image of his son (Rom. 8:29). But we are incomplete; we are works in progress. And God shows up to us every day.
This world we live in is like the easel or the drawing table or the pottery wheel or whatever metaphor you want to use. God, the master artist is working on us to bring us into completion. We will one day be put on display for all and this world will see the completed image of Christ; the one that God shows in every day.