Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Perfection of Imperfection

I found this devotional reading from Richard Rohr stimulating today:

I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever, and revealing them to the little ones.(Luke 10:21 and Matthew 11:25)

We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.That might just be the central message of how spiritual growth happens; yet nothing in us wants to believe it, and those who deem themselves “morally successful” are often the last to learn it.

If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection (like God does), rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond any imperfection.

It becomes sort of obvious once you say it out loud. In fact, I would say that the demand for the perfect is often the greatest enemy of the good. Perfection is a mathematical or divine concept; goodness is a beautiful human concept. We see this illusionary perfectionism in ideologues and zealots on both the left and the right of church and state. They refuse to get their hands dirty, think compromise or subtlety are dirty words, and end up creating much more “dirt” for the rest of us, while they remain totally “clean” and quite comfortable in their cleanliness.

Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, pp. xxii-xxiii

What a great reminder, that God has chosen to “hide holiness” in imperfection so that only the little humble children can find it. Beware of cursing your imperfections, weaknesses and blights; God is there, calling you to holy ground. Can you see it? Can you hear him?

Lord, open my eyes and my heart to receive your holy love which comes not to my strengths, not to the place of my glory and successes, but to my weakest points of need, barrenness and sorrow. Thank you that you have designed things this way, so that normal people can get in on the life of God made available through Jesus.

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.” (Matthew 11:25-26, The Message)

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