George Fox believed that Christians could “…come to Adam’s perfection, —into that image of God, that righteousness and holiness, that Adam was in before he fell; to be clean and pure, without sin, as he was.” While I personally reject the idea that humankind is inherently sinful and depraved, I haven’t seen anybody in this life who is sinless. In fact, a person claiming to be spiritually perfect in the twenty first century is possibly suffering from a psychological disorder.
It is true that Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In context, however, Jesus was saying that we should even love enemies and tax collectors. He was really saying, “Be compassionate.”
Consider these words from the Apostle Paul, probably referring to the epileptic attacks he may have suffered:
Therefore, in order to keep me from being conceited, I was given
a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three
times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said
to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
Here Paul has Jesus connect human weakness with divine grace. As a Friend recently commented to a group of us, “Good enough is where God’s grace happens.”
“Good enough” is a maxim that can counteract perfectionism, not only in spiritual matters, but in all areas of life. A brilliant doctoral student whose punctuation is not perfect deserves compassion. A conscientious host whose zoom meeting lacks internet stability at least deserves “good enough.” And although I’ve taken fifty years to follow a leading to Quakerism, I know that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.
~ Richard Russell
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