Friday, December 29, 2006


I have this pet peeve about doing things "good enough". One of the first things I learned from my father was, "if you're going to do it, do it right". The only times I've found myself floundering in life were when I had failed to live up to that standard so there must be something to it. But so often in this life we find ourselves begging out of the hard chore, sleeping in on a cold morning or just leaving things as-is because they're "good enough". Some of us even perform mental gymnastics with Jesus' saying, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48) to the tune of "I can't possibly be as perfect as God is, therefore He must have meant that purely figuratively and therefore I'll do the best I can [which of course I decide for myself] and that's what He really wants". I'd say that's a right reading, taken to a wrong extreme. God calls us to a perfection which He knows is unattainable if we only use the faculties we possess; realizing this is no sin but a great step towards understanding. It is when one stops here, stops as it were with one foot in and one foot out of the car which is about to speed away, that one gets hurt. It is in putting our full faith in God and not ourselves that we find all new levels of perfection. C.S. Lewis had much the same to say about it in Mere Christianity but of course he said it with much better flair than I.

On the one hand, God's demand for perfection need not discourage you in the least in your present attempts to be good, or even in your present failures. Each time you fall He will pick you up again. And He knows perfectly well that your own efforts are never going to bring you anywhere near perfection. On the other hand, you must realise from the outset that the goal towards which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realise that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting Him after a certain point. I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone.