Into the circle of God’s love

Daily Reading for June 8 • The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

One of the things that will become increasingly obvious when we study the apostles is that Jesus did not wait for people to be perfect in order to call them into the circle of God’s love. It is important theologically where you place perfection in the great saga of our experience. If perfection were something we had to have before God would accept and help us, then there would be no hope for any of us. The Baptist preacher Carlisle Marney always said that it is too late to worry about innocence. Eventually, all we have left is a guilty self and the need to know what to do with it. Perfection is not a prerequisite of divine interaction, but the goal toward which we strive. Although we cannot fully embody it in this life, it is that omega point by which we measure our progress.

Extreme perfectionism is one of the highest forms of self-abuse. It is a dangerous misconception held by many throughout the Christian church that we have to be perfect before God will have anything to do with us. Since we are all flawed, perfectionism leads to the unbecoming pretense of being better than others, in order to hide our human failings and feelings of inadequacy. Trying to hide who we really are separates us from an authentic relationship with God. I believe that a true understanding of the Christian vision holds that we are acceptable to our gracious and merciful Lord just as we are, with all our imperfections. As I look at these disciples Jesus chose, it is clear that there is hope for every one of us, for they were far from perfect.

From the Introduction to The First to Follow: The Apostles of Jesus by John R. Claypool, edited by Ann Wilkinson Claypool. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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