Chapter Four: Perfection Within the Church
“I have a sister who no longer attends church. One of the excuses she gave me was because she felt like we expected too much of people when being perfect wasn't possible. That really got me thinking about what it is. The concept of perfectionism is a difficult one to understand. Why should we strive to attain something that we know isn't possible? Yes, we probably won't achieve perfection, but striving for perfection gets us so much farther along than throwing our hands up in the air and just demanding that it's not possible. We are asked to strive to be perfect, not to reach perfection. There is a big difference. Once I figured this out I understood the pressure much better and it made it much easier to deal with!” ~Amy~
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus didn’t charge us with trying to keep up with everyone else’s assumed or observed spiritual perfection.
Yet, so often within the world of the church, we find ourselves comparing, contrasting, wondering what she has that I don’t, wishing we could be as spiritual as that person, or that person.
While the gospel is a beautiful and simple gift, it can very difficult in the church (as in our ward families, stakes, or even neighborhoods, depending on your address) to remember that we are all experiencing the simplicity of the gospel in our own special, personal way.
As discussed in the social media chapter, when we find ourselves looking outward, and judging, we easily can become discontent with what we do have.
“Judging? I’m not judging.”
Yes you are. Even if your view of the person whom you are looking at is positive, you are still judging.
In the world full of “tolerate this, don’t judge me, I’m doing right by me,” we have begun conditioning ourselves to think, “I feel a certain way about something but that doesn’t mean I’m judging.” After all, in Matthew, right before Christ reminds up about the whole beam/mote scenario, he says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
So, instead of “judging not,” we do judge, try to act like we’re not, and then in turn are judged by others. It’s just a cycle.
Let’s look at it in a less literal way, and use the rest of the chapter to give us some guidance. After Christ says not to judge, he reminds us that our own issues are of real concern and no one else’s should we be worried about. Then, in verse 5 he tells us all to not be hypocrites.
Ah, there it is. The key word. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t judge.
All right. It is super easy to just say “Stop judging”. There, I just said it. But to actually practice it? Well. That is a whole other ball game.