THE PERFECTION WITHIN

The Perfection Within

Matthew 23:1-12

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

#   #   #

How do we name ourselves?
Many times
we can know best who we are
by the names we call ourselves.
So, by what personal set of claims
do we know ourselves:
Strong?
Idiot?
Loved?
Inadequate?
Beautiful?
Fool?
Perfect?
The Matthew text,
at first glance,
seems to be about
religious posturing.
But if I do a sidewalk-psych-eval,
it appears to me there is strong evidence
of a dynamic
of low self-esteem at work.
The Pharisees appear
to be inflating themselves
to seem more important than they
believe they are —
positioning themselves
to look better than
their inner-selves can actually accept as an inner-truth.
Though it is usually preached otherwise,
I read this text as more about
believing in ourselves,
and how we are seen by God,
than
about walking our talk,
or needlessly posturing before others.
So many times we forget,
Or we have never known,
how perfect we actually are.
There is so much crappy theology
being spewed around
that claims only God,
or Jesus,
can be perfect,
and how we are only
vague, dim, imperfect, worthless, vessels.
To which I say, “Hog swill!”
We are how we have been created —
perfect.
No original sin!
No damaged soul!
No fools!
No fooling!
I suggest we begin to live into
what we have been created to be
by naming ourselves,
as God originally named us,
“Good.”
We say we want
peace, love, that we want “nice”
in our world.
Let us first offer these things to ourselves
as God has
offered them to us.
Sit with this for a moment.
Can you feel the goodness
in yourselves?
Can you sense the perfection of Being
waiting to be acknowledged?
Can you?

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