Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Behold the Lamb!

I admit it - I have a perfectionist streak.

I like things to be right. The math should all balance. The spelling and grammar should be correct and the tabs should all align.

I have learned to let some things go as I have gotten older and wiser because I realize that perfection does get in the way. When other people are waiting for you to be done - "good enough" is good enough. Still, it bothers me.

Being a perfectionist has also cost me lots of fun and opportunities to do new things. There were times that if I couldn't get it right in the first few tries, then I would quit. No need to be a darn fool about whatever it was - drawing, painting. And water coloring?! Forget about it. Did you know that water coloring never stays in the lines and it blotches? How many colors can you run together before it turns to...well - mud?!

I thought it was just me but I have met lots of people who also tend to being perfectionists. More than doing things right - being perfect. Sometimes it really cripples them. They also tend to be so unhappy and make others around them unhappy too because things are never "good enough" - they have created a trap for themselves in their perfectionism. It's never good enough...they are never good enough.

I want to shake them sometimes and say free yourself! You are not perfect and you won't be. There was only one perfect person and he died for you so that you don't have to be perfect.

So why is Jesus called the lamb or the paschal lamb?

Well it comes from the Exodus story. The Jews killed an unblemished lamb and spread it's blood on their doorway so that the angel of death would pass over them. Hence Passover - the lamb was the paschal lamb. Then Moses later gave the law to the people for their sin offering, unblemished lambs, or doves, etc.

But this sin offering was never enough because it was never really perfect.

It did make a great business though.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Every good Jew had to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And he had to make a sin offering. So, Jews traveled from all over to Jerusalem to make this offering but their livestock never arrived unblemished. The journey was tough and the livestock arrived dirty or injured or in some other way that did not make them unblemished. They weren't perfect.

So, the Jews in Jerusalem started raising livestock as a "service" to these pilgrims. After a long journey, the pilgrims didn't have to worry about bringing livestock, they already had the paschal or "passover" lamb ready for them! What a good deal - well, except for the price.

Oh, and by the way, those Roman coins weren't any good. You see they had that unfortunate Roman on them so they had to be changed out for some acceptable coins. But, hey, someone was ready to help the pilgrims out there too! For a fee, they would exchange out those dirty, nasty Roman coins for some good unblemished, temple coins. For a fee of course! What a bargain! Well, not really but perfect has a price tag and the pilgrims had to pay it.

Which is why Jesus was so mad. These pilgrims, these sheep, were getting fleeced! Right in front of the temple. So, he cleared them out. Flipped over tables, upturned baskets - scales, money bags tossed around, livestock running amok - it was a mess! Point made.

God wanted us to offer him our best - not that we had to be perfect. And these people were taking advantage of that and making a business of selling perfection. What these poor people were told was that what they had were not good enough but they could get perfection at a price. But it was all a lie. It only further separated the people from their God and that was not what God intended. No matter the sin offering, it could never be perfect.

Only God could be perfect so he came to live amongst us and offered himself as the ultimate Paschal Lamb to save the least of us. The most unworthy, the worst sinner, you and me - the only way to wash away this level of sin was by the sacrifice of the perfect. Jesus went willingly to sacrifice himself for us because he was the good shepherd who laid his life down for his flock. He was perfect.

And that is why we don't have to be.

God made us each unique. All of our strengths and our flaws are by design. Does that mean we should not fix cleft palates? Of course not, but does breast augmentation really need to be a multi-million dollar business? Why would you inject botox or botulism (food poisoning) into your skin to look younger?

Yet people do.

In our quest for perfectionism, we easily spiral into a culture that worships youth and beauty. And the logical extension of that is a culture that does not appreciate our elders or value life in all of its forms. Abortion, euthanasia, anorexia, bulimia, all manners of poor esteem stem from the common root - I am not good enough, this life is not perfect.

And here is a flash of the obvious - life on this earth is not perfect. We left perfect when Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world. We cannot be perfect because we are sinners and we are flawed.

And God loves us anyway.

Take a moment and take that in - we are not perfect, we will not be perfect and God loves us anyway.

God does not ask us to seek perfection only that we seek him. And if we follow in his footsteps and feed his sheep then we will be more perfect than anything that we can do for ourselves. God made it OK to not be perfect - we are good enough if we follow him.

Behold the Lamb!

1 comment:

  1. Whoa - good stuff you've got here, Philip. Thank you so much for sharing!