Number one on my bucket list: To Reach Heaven!
And like every good marathon participant, I’m in training!
Ready, Set, Go (towards the goal!)
To reach this goal one might strive, as a part of their training ‘exercises,’ to become Holy or Perfect but,
what does it mean to be holy or perfect?
“There are two classical concepts of perfection, one Greek and the other Hebrew. In the Greek ideal, to be perfect is to have no deficiencies, no faults, no flaws. Perfection, to the Greek mind, means to measure up to some ideal standard, to be completely whole, true, good and beautiful. To be perfect is never to sin.
The Hebrew ideal of perfection is quite different. In this mindset, to be perfect simply means to walk with God, despite our flaws. Perfection here means being in the divine presence, in spite of the fact that we are not perfectly whole, good, true, and beautiful.
Our concept of holiness in the West has been, both for good and bad, very much shaped by the Greek ideal of perfection. Hence, holiness has been understood as a question of measuring up to a certain benchmark. In such a view of things, a view with which many of us were raised, sanctity is understood as achieving and maintaining something – namely, moral goodness and integrity.
Such a view is not without its merits. It is a perpetual challenge against mediocrity, laziness, giving in to the line of least resistance, and settling for what is second best. Such a view of perfection (and the spirituality it engenders) keeps the ideal squarely in view. The flag is always held high, ahead of us, beckoning us, calling us beyond the limits of our present tiredness. We are always invited to something higher. This can be very healthy, especially in a culture that is cynical and despairing of ideals.
BUT such a concept of perfection also has a nasty underside. NOBODY MEASURES UP! In the end, we all fall short, which leads to a whole series of spiritual pitfalls. First of all, we beat ourselves up with the false expectation that we can somehow, all on our own, through sheer will power, fix all that is wrong with us. Will power, as we now know, is powerless in the face of our addictions. Because we dont’ recognize this, we often grow discouraged and simply quit trying to break some bad habit. WHy try when the result is always the same? The temptation then is to do what we in fact so often do, namely, split off holiness and project it onto a “Mother Teresa” type of figure. We let her carry holiness for us because we believe we are unable to become holy ourselves.
Hence, despite the positives that are contained in the Greek concept of perfection, we might well profit from incorporating into our lives more of the Hebrew ideal. Perfection here means walking with God, despite imperfection.
All on our own, we can never measure up! We can never be perfect in the Greek sense. But that is not what God is asking of us. What God is asking is that we bring our helplessness, weaknesses, imperfections, and sin constantly to him, that we walk with him, and that we never hide from him. God is a good parent. He understands that we will make mistakes and disappoint Him and ourselves.
What God asks is simply that we come home, that we share our lives with him, that we let HIM help us in those ways in which we are powerless to help ourselves.” PRAYER, Our Deepest Longing by Ronald Rolheiser
And suddenly…it’s as if God & I just had a Rod Tidwell/Jerry McGuire training exercise together!
hugs n’ blessings to those registered in this same Marathon with me!