have you ever met a perfect person? i have not, but i have met a few who claimed to be. i remember one man in particular, he told me that since he met Jesus he "never sins anymore",that in fact he is "a perfected person". i was amazed. no one i know who is a friend of Jesus, including myself, has any thing like that kind of track record. i asked him what exactly he meant by being perfected and sinning no more. he told me he had been a hard drinker, and big with the ladies, and loved to gamble, but now he did none of that. that's wonderful i said to him; then i asked if he every became impatient with other people, or spoke unkindly about or to someone, and if he was completely honest and transparent in all his dealings. he thought to himself for a moment and admitted that he was at times guilty of those things, but quickly added that those things were "little sins" and he was talking about "big sins".
surely he is not alone in his thinking. many of us focus on one or another behavior or thought pattern as being "really" sinful, and minimize other actions. often too we only focus on "personal" sins and fail to reflect on our participation in "social" sins, a good example of which is racism. so if we overcome that which we view as "really sinful" we could easily delude ourselves into believing that we have become "perfected".
i am thinking of a friend of mine who was a long time drug abuser. he has been clean for well over a decade now and is fond of declaring himself to be a good person. in affirming his status as a good person he can not tolerate any question about present behaviors that may not be good, because he confuses being a good person with meaning that everything he does is good. no doubt he is a good person, and has overcome by grace many of the problems in his past, and i know that he does strive to be honest in his dealings with others. what he doesn't realize is that his refusal to look at himself critically actually hampers his growth.
its not about being perfect; its about growing in perfection. both my friend and the gentleman who claimed to be perfect, can't tolerate the thought that now that they have overcome those big obstacles there may still be more work to be done. they are, like us all, damaged human beings but their pride in their successes doesn't allow them to admit that they are still damaged and at times fail. their egos are fragile, and to protect themselves from pain they unconsciously pretend they have arrived at the mountain top, and not just one of many plateaus in their journey up the mountain of life.
the obvious problem with mistaking a plateau for the summit is that it cuts us off from further ascent. worse yet it sets us up for a really big sin. if we believe that we are perfected then there is no more need for us to remove the dirt from our eyes. in believing our vision to be perfect we can now freely and easily point out the speck of dust in the eyes of others. we can easily maximize the flaws in others so they out shine any thing we may still find lingering or disturbing in ourselves.
it is far better to understand that its ok that we are not yet perfect. to recognize that God is still working within us individually, and within our society (that is our collective-sevles), towards the perfection we impatiently want to claim before its time. accepting ourselves for where we are, and being open to where we are going, then becomes the truth of our lives, and a source of peace as well as wisdom.