• Rev. Mark Tews

United We Stand ... Divided We Fall

Perfection in an Imperfect World - United We Stand Divided We Fall

Rare are the moments in this world when we come across something, anything, that we might consider perfect. The perfect fit, the perfect day, the perfect mate, the perfect country. And the truth of the matter is, when those rare occasions do come along, reality is that they are not at all perfect, not really. Why? Because every “perfect” moment or experience is a fleeting moment or experience. Nothing that is of this world lasts, therefore everything that is of this world is imperfect at best. To perpetually expect perfection of an imperfect world leads to perpetual disappointment, frustration and madness. Perhaps this is why we are seeing so much disappointment, frustration and madness in our country these days. To be sure, there are indeed a great many imperfections within our cultural, societal, economical, and political systems. There truly are systemic issues that need to be addressed, discrepancies, prejudices, inequalities and such which most certainly ought to be rectified. We all should continuously be making the effort, as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a country to do better. The difference between expecting perfection and striving toward perfection, is where we can make progress. We should always strive toward perfection, while at the same time realizing there will always be room for improvement.

I think this may be what the founding fathers had in mind as they wrote the preamble to our U.S. Constitution: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I believe the framers of the Constitution understood the futility of establishing an expectation of perfection, and fully understood that there will always be room for improvement. After all, doesn’t history indicate that improvement, and doing better than before, though not always speedy or “perfect,” has been the course? Child-labor laws, public education, women’s suffrage, civil rights, etc. just to name a few, did not exist at first, but now they do.

I also believe there existed among those framers a fundamental understanding of where or in whom perfection can be found in this imperfect world. Faith in the Divine empowered, encouraged and led them to strive for something better. I think they did as the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

The writer of the book of Hebrews pleads with us to consider endurance and perseverance in the light of faith. No story is any good if the author starts it but does not finish it. Jesus is an author who finishes His work perfectly. Christ’s work is to perfect our faith, not our world, so we may endure through many trials (such as we encounter in an imperfect world) until finally glory comes. Every day, Jesus is helping this story to be finished and we should consider how He is doing this.

"Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3). The example of Jesus, "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,” helps us to strive toward improvement in the face of adversity. Christ’s example of faithfulness through every trial and temptation, helps us to confidently trust Him and follow Him to the end.

We should also "consider how to stimulate one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). Jesus warns us against judging each other. Instead He urges us to encourage others and to be encouraged by others. It’s a fact that when we encourage others to improve & do better, we are improved & do better ourselves.

The writer suggests another thing we can do to help us endure. "Recall the former days in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great struggle with sufferings" (Hebrews 10:32). The faith perfected in us by our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ helps us remember those times when we struggled before & were challenged strongly. We held on then and came through with the Lord’s help. Just remembering those times of victory can and will strengthen us to endure our present & future distress as well.

We were never promised a perfect world to live in this side of heaven. Paradise was lost when Adam & Eve chose a different course, wrought with all the trials and travails of daily living. But we are promised a way through it all, which is Faith. That is why we are told in John 16:33; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The faith we possess is His gift to us, and He perfects it in us. One meaning of the word “Perfecter” is this: He is the One who brings us safely through to the end.

Therefore, even in the midst of all our country’s troubles, let us all, black, white, brown, red, yellow or blue, Democrat or Republican, left or right, whoever, and whatever we are, remember and celebrate this upcoming Fourth of July weekend. Though we ought not & cannot expect the perfection of this world, let us nevertheless strive toward “a more perfect union” together.

Let us all look to Jesus, and to Jesus only, always and forever. He will never change, He will never fail, and He will never let us go.

United we stand, divided we fall.