There are a lot of good ideas that go right to the edge of Jesus, but need to get pushed over the edge. Here’s how last week’s idea of “perfection is the enemy of good” moves into full commitment and surrender to Christ. On June 2, 2010, Armando Galarraga pitched the best game of his life, retiring 26 of 26 Cleveland Indians with one out left to throw the ever-elusive Perfect Game. The next batter, Jason Donald hit a ground ball to first basemen Miguel Cabrera, who fielded and threw it on time to Galarraga who was covering first, only to have umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly call him safe. With one bad call, Galarraga’s perfect game turned into a one hitter. In over 140 years of Major League Baseball, there have only been 23 perfect games and Galarraga’s deserving effort will forever be left out. So how did he respond? He smiled and walked back to the mound to get the final out of the game. While all of Detroit Tiger players, coaches, and fans were livid at the injustice, Galarraga smiled and went back to doing what he’d done all day.
We all long to see and experience perfection because we know how special it is. And yes, coming up short of perfect was designed to be crippling. In our own lives we create an image in our mind of what perfection would look like, and we experience the pain of coming up short on a daily basis. Yes, we could save ourselves a lot of heartache by giving up on the idea of perfect and just taking the best we can get, however, I believe God put perfect there for a reason.
In the Old Testament, God gave perfect to Moses and called it the Law. If you could live the law to perfection, then you could earn righteousness in the eyes of the Lord. The problem was, no one could do it, not one. So we see story after story in the Old Testament on the pain that follows God’s people as they come up short of perfect. However, maybe God didn’t give us perfect so that we could reach it. Instead He gave us perfect so we could know that we’re not it. Through the law many showed that they were relatively good, but to God, good wasn’t good enough.
Thank God that He had an answer. Through the law, we recognized that there is a gap between perfect and good; a gap between God and us. So God sent His son Jesus to stand in the gap. Jesus came and was perfect when we could not be so that we could see what righteousness could look like in human form. Then Jesus paid the price of our imperfection by dying on the cross and he handed us his righteousness and perfection. Three days later, Jesus conquered our death by rising from the grave. So Jesus handed us perfect on his ability since we couldn’t do it on our own.
Yes, perfect is the enemy of good. And good is the enemy of perfect. One is attainable on your own ability and one is only attainable on Christ’s ability. The gospel says that good isn’t good enough and perfection is the expectation. Settling for good enough isn’t the answer. Jesus is. Jesus was perfect when we could not be. Our discontent between good and perfect should point us to Jesus.
Matthew 5:17-20 - “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”