A simple realization with which I have had to grapple is the fact I am imperfect. Of course, the notion of one being “imperfect” logically implies the existence of the “Perfect,” against which the “imperfect” is compared. Considering a common understand that no one is without their flaws, a contradicting belief within postmodern thought is that one can be good while maintaining he or she falls short of perfection. My experience has been that this contradiction arises when so-called “good” persons are confronted with their own shortcomings. My intention is not to dialogue on the goodness (or lack thereof) of humanity. I only digress to transition to the position I am taking on the imperfect believer’s soul.
There are two ways to understand imperfect.
Understanding 1: English adjective, meaning “to be flawed, defective or incomplete.”
Understanding 2: Grammatical past-continuous tense, denoting a past action that was stopped or interrupted while in progress.
For the purpose of this post, I am taking some liberties with these two understandings. Not to say that the adjectival understanding isn’t adequate, it is just that its grammatical understanding is also useful to convey my thoughts here.
To be imperfect is to be unfinished in time, like a photograph is a captured moment in the past. Any past progressive action captured in that image remains incomplete. However, the moment of captured incompleteness may not be as incomplete as moments before. This is due to the progress toward completion, during which the moment was captured. The past may be incomplete in time, but it was on its way to completion, and so remains imperfect.
Thus is the believer’s soul.
Philippians 1:6 says,
I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (New Living Translation).
This is to say that no faithful believer on this side of Heaven is perfect, but remains in a constant state of progression toward perfection. Another way to understand this, perhaps, is that a faithful believer remains in constant progression toward the Perfect. Once more, allow me to direct toward the contrast between what is imperfect versus what is perfect. For there to be imperfection, there needs to be an ultimate perfection against which to compare, or progress toward.
Christians understand perfection as being fully in God’s presence, or to be fully transformed to His character. Likewise, the Perfect is Christ Himself, whom is referenced in Philippians 1. Therefore, any snapshot of my life (and the life of all faithful believers) between now and the time of Christ’s return is a capture of imperfection: being made complete, but not having reached completeness.
This means I am still flawed, defective and incomplete, but am on the road to completeness. Regardless of the criticism I may receive from others in the area of my deficiencies, I must hold to this view of myself. Likewise, I must recall that any progression toward perfection that I reach has nothing to do with my own efforts. Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 1:6 echos the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.
And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand. (Isaiah 64:8, New Living Translation).
Because of God’s great love for me, He is forming me by His hands, for His purpose, just as a potter forms clay for one’s own purposes (see also Ephesians 2:10). Indeed, am incomplete, but I am in the process of being complete by the Master Potter, who is both Perfect and Good. He has a plan for my life and as long as I submit to His work, His molding, His shaping, I may be formed into the likeness He deems necessary.
Yes, I am imperfect! This is the most blessed status to be. So, I rejoice in the knowledge that the Perfect One is still not finished shaping me. Therefore, I will go on with great hope and great joy, calling myself “Imperfect Me.”
Isaiah 64:8, “And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand.” NLT