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Be Perfect

June 12, 2019

Be perfect,

just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

— Christ Jesus, Matthew 5:48

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “but when there is nothing left to take away.”

You might recognize de Saint-Exupery as the author of The Little Prince. Or not; it’s ostensibly a children’s book. But in France he’s considered a World War II hero who lost his life during an aerial reconnaissance mission on July 31, 1944. His is a fascinating story of an even more fascinating person.

Minimalists will swoon at his line, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

That concept is seen in designs by people like Steve Jobs and his cohorts Hartmut Esslinger and Jony Ive. They were influenced by Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from the Bauhaus movement. (One of my personal favorites in this pantheon is Dieter Rams, but that’s another story for another time.)

Back to perfect. Or, back towards perfection.

“Are you going on to perfection?” is the second of our denomination’s  historic questions asked of ordination candidates by a Bishop.

It’s generally understood that the correct answer is along the lines of “With the help of God, yes,” or “Yes, by the grace of God.”

I remember the moment it was asked of me. Even as my voice gave the expected answer, a soundtrack was playing in the back of mind and ripping its way through my heart.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” were the lyrics. “We’ve all got a long way to go!” If you’re not humming that tune right now, don’t feel bad. It’s a fairly obscure track from an early album by Alice Cooper.

And right in the middle of everything is Christ Jesus himself. He’s saying, Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Let’s start right there tomorrow, with Alice and Antione, and above all others, Christ Jesus.

 

 

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