Olympic Imperfection

I love the Olympics. I love everything about it: the athletic excellence, the patriotism, the personal stories, the competition…all of it. And I’m not even a huge sports fan. But the Olympics, well…it’s different. For this year’s Olympics, my excitement began as it always does with the opening ceremony. And even though it was tinged with the sadness over the death of the Georgian Olympian, the ceremony was filled with the usual excellence of opening ceremonies…until the end, that is. Until the glitch.

As usual, the ceremony culminated in the great final event: the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Four Canadian sports heroes were to simultaneously light the cauldron through giant pillars that were to rise up out of the floor. However, to everyone’s dismay, one pillar did not come up. The door failed to open. What the Canadians planned as a stunning display of perfection actually became a stunning display of imperfection. The grand finale of the night was somewhat soiled. It was still amazing, yes, but not perfect.

Perfection is an interesting term. Many moments during this Olympics will be considered perfect and others considered not so perfect. But what makes something perfect? If it has no mistakes? No glitches? No blemishes? Perhaps. But isn’t perfection somewhat in the eye of the beholder? Something one person might consider perfect, another might not consider perfect, right? If perfection is indeed in the eye of the beholder, than the beholder somehow determines perfection. In the Olympics, the judges are the primary ones who determine perfection, although as we know, they almost never issue a perfect score in anything, do they? Their standards of perfection are very high.

As I think about Olympic perfection, my thoughts are drawn towards God’s view of perfection. What are his standards? As a perfect God, we might guess that he must have extremely high standards of perfection. In fact, the Bible says this very thing. That to God, perfection means absolutely no mistakes, no errors, no blemishes…100% perfect. And this is the kind of perfection he asks from us. Yes, a standard of perfection even higher than that demanded by the Olympic judges.

Why? Well, for one reason, because he himself is so completely and wholly perfect, only things that are perfect can be in close relationship with him. If anything imperfect were to come in close contact with God, it would, in theory, soil him.

My two oldest children are very different. My son is quite neat and orderly. As for my daughter…well…not so much. This is never quite as evident as when they go out to play. My son can spend the day outside on the muddiest of days and come in perfectly clean. However, with my daughter, it seems as if dirt jumps off the ground and clings magnetically to her. She cannot look at dirt without getting dirty. If my daughter and dirt are in the same universe, dirt will find her instantly. This is why to keep her clean, we need to keep her far away from anything that even approximates dirt.

That is kind of how it is with God. For God to stay clean, to stay perfect, he has to stay far away from dirt. And of course I am not talking about physical dirt, but spiritual dirt. Something the Bible calls “sin.” And his home, heaven, needs to remain pure and imperfection-free. No dirt. No sin. Nada. Nothing.

Hence, the problem with us and God. We all want to be in heaven, someday, right? I have yet to meet a single person who says after death, they don’t want to be in a happy, pain-free, perfect place. But if we are all imperfect (and does any of us really think we are not?), how in the world can we ever get anywhere near a perfect God who by his nature necessitates complete perfection?

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a solution for this in Jesus, the only human who truly was perfect. We have the ability to make a trade with him: our imperfect life for his perfect life. One moment in time, one decision, one commitment, one expression of need, one sincere prayer of surrender, asking for Jesus’ perfection to become ours, and it’s done. Jesus takes our imperfection and gives us his perfection. After that point, God no longer looks at us and sees imperfection. Even though we continue to make mistakes, he sees perfection. We gain what every Olympian can only dream of: a perfect score. And we have instant access to a perfect God and can live with him forever in a perfect heaven. No imperfection then will enter there. Nothing is soiled. All remains pure…clean…perfect.

So have you asked Jesus to make the trade? Will God look at you and see your imperfection or will he see Jesus’ perfection? That day we stand before him will truly be the finale of our lives. I hope it is a stunning display of perfection.