I always get a chuckle when someone asks me for my home email and I say “bill at not-perfect-yet dot com" and they respond “perfect.” They don’t even hear themselves doing it. “Perfect” has entered into our modern vocabulary to replace “okay.” This is truly ironic. Now putting aside this odd ambiguity, what does the Bible mean when it says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12). We live in a world that is desperate for real love. When we engage, even momentarily, in an authentic, selfless, other-honoring relationship with another person, we allow them to see God in us. This is real perfection.
We live today in a world where our coffee is ground to perfectly identical grains, where our computer perfectly transmits our ill-conceived emails, and where our phones can perfectly tell us the time the sun will rise on this date in the year 2525 (if humankind survives that long). “Perfect” is possible for any product that doesn’t depend upon human input. We mortals regularly mess up coffee making, misspell emails, and often fail to rise in time to see the sun do its thing, perfectly. We also mess up love; the one thing we flawed creatures can do well which machines will never do at all.
Perfection in love is easy to describe. To be perfect, I must in this moment, be the way Jesus was, or would be, facing the same situation. Since Jesus was fully human, this is achievable by every human being. Since he was also from God, he knew perfectly this aspect of God; God is Love. The Holy One can be mysterious about many things, but divine revelation is generous and perfectly clear about how to love. Love is a humanly doable thing.
We seek perfection in so many things that are beyond us. Why don’t we seek to be perfectly loving?