Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Perfectionist

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Earlier this week, I took a DISC-based personality test.  For those who may not be familiar with that, it's a personality test that looks at your tendencies for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.  Based on your levels of each of those four characteristics, you are assigned one of about fifteen different personality patterns. 

I've actually done a DISC test before, about 6 years ago, so I already knew that I was a Perfectionist, which is a personality pattern that actually hits the nail on the head for me.  A few of the characteristics are:
  • Displays competence
  • Restrained and cautious
  • Works to set and maintain high standards
  • Conscientious
  • Pays meticulous attention to details
  • Typically internalizes instructions by asking questions before acting in methodical and orderly manner
  • Often needs personal reassurance before moving ahead
  • Overdependence on people, products, and processes that have worked in the past
  • Once committed to a plan, will remain loyal to the end
  • Under pressure, becomes tactful and diplomatic
  • Fears antagonism
But, truth be told, I don't really need a test at all to tell me that.  I am a very detail-oriented person.  I pay close attention to accuracy and making sure that things are done correctly.  When something's not right, it bothers me.

So you can imagine the frustration a Perfectionist like me might feel when I read a verse like the one above?  Really, Jesus?  You expect us to be perfect???

This verse actually comes, though, at the end of a series of instructions that Jesus gives, in which He lays out what it takes to please God.  In fact, He redefines that, in a way:

  • Where God has previously said, "Do not murder," Jesus says, "Do not be angry with your brother." 
  • Where God has said, "Do not commit adultery," Jesus says, "Do not even look at a woman lustfully." 
  • Where God has said, "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce," Jesus says, "Do not divorce your wife."
  • Where God has said, "Keep the oaths you have made," Jesus says, "Do not swear at all."
  • Where God has said, "An eye for an eye," Jesus says, "Do not resist an evil person...go the extra mile."
  • Where God has said, "Love your neighbor," Jesus says, "Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you."
Don't think, though, that Jesus was changing what God has already set in place.  Because Jesus was God-in-the-flesh, I don't believe that what He's saying here in any way contradicts what God has already said.  Rather, I believe that He's giving flesh to these laws which had long since become to the Jews just a series of do's and don'ts, rather than matters of the heart. 

Jesus reminds us that it's always been what's in a person's heart that truly matters to God.  And that's where things get difficult for the Perfectionist in me.  "Do not murder."  Oh, I got that.  I've never murdered anybody! But have I ever been angry with my brother?  Uh-oh...

And it's at the end of all these instructions that Jesus says to "Be perfect..."  I can't even keep the first one on the list, and now You're expecting me to be perfect?!?  I would say this is impossible, except that, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."   

The only Perfect One who ever lived lends His righteousness to us, so that when God looks at us, He sees Perfection. 

And that sounds perfect to me!

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