Love is perfect. Imperfection has issues with this.

by Craig on March 29, 2011

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I’m a pretty good guy, but by no means perfect.

And the striving for perfection – that’s a good thing, but it’s an impossible quest.

So continuing the quest is a good thing…

the path paved with good, but always imperfect efforts…

and fortunately…

the path lined with Grace.

But here’s the sad thing.

I think a perfect God,
who is perfect Love,
is merciful by not coming in direct contact
with an imperfect soul.

And I think this has always made God sad.

There’s the Old Testament story of a person named Uzzah carting the Ark of the Covenant up the hill to Jerusalem. The oxen pulling the ark made some sort of movement causing the Ark to tip. In order to save the Ark Uzzah reached out his hand – steadied the Ark – and was instantly killed.  (2 Sam 6).

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My very first time through the Bible this bothered me even more then the story of Abraham sacrificing his son. At least then God stopped it from happening. Here, the man’s intentions were so honorable – and still – zap.

The Ark was a holy vessel.
To let it fall?
Well I don’t know what would have happened.
But he knew he couldn’t let it happen.
And so he saved it.
And the Bible clearly says that God took his life because of it.

There were lots of rules for handling the Ark – and sure, he wasn’t following them very well.

And even though the big rule clearly spelled out that if a normal “Joe”, or Uzzah touched the Ark  – well everyone knew what would happen. But still it seemed unfair. None of the answers were good enough to satisfy my questions.

Until I figured this;
I’m a guy,
so my “epiphany” came from Star Trek,
sorry to the non Trekkies.
Anyway the engines of the Starships were powered by anti-matter.
And there were containment shields in place,
because if anti-matter touched matter…everything went.

I figured that sin is like the anti-matter to God’s holiness which is the “matter” and when one touches the other – without forgiveness applied first – everything goes. Except, in this situation, God remains. God’s “matter” can’t be destroyed. And it all fell in place,

if imperfection meets perfection, imperfection is destroyed.

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It’s just the way it is. That has to be kind of a heartbreaking thing for God. He has children he can’t touch – for their sake. This would be like having a child and because of a disease – never being able to touch that child. How sad!

So when Uzzah touched the Ark, which had God’s holiness all around it, imperfection touched perfection – and imperfection yielded – by dying. It wasn’t an act of vengeance. The Bible says God was “angry”. But maybe a perfectly Just God must always, by nature, be angry at sin.

It is what it is,
if imperfection meets perfection, imperfection is destroyed,
even if imperfection had good intentions.

Even if imperfection is trying to be perfect.

I guess the problem with perfectionism is that it’s impossible to be perfect on our own.

There is not a one of us who is perfect – ever – not once – not a one.

Well…

there was just one.

If Our Lord has done so much to make a way for for our imperfect little selves to come in contact with his perfection – don’t we do him a little, by way of insult, when we are satisfied with nothing less than…

perfect.

 

In God’s love.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Emilie March 29, 2011 at 8:48 am

So, I just have to say… the fact that you used Star Trek to illustrate your point made my morning!! 😀 I know, I know… I’m a twenty-something female college student and shouldn’t be a Trekkie… but I am… and for this Trekkie, your illustration made so much sense! So. Thank you! And I hope you have a great day! :)

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

It just shows how wise beyond your years you are Emilie. And I hope you have a great day too.
Live long and prosper Emilie (◠‿◠)

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Emilie March 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Hahaha… thank you! Peace and long life to you as well! :)

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Laurie March 29, 2011 at 8:57 am

I loved this explanation of “poor” Uzzah, My kids and I were just talking about this and about God loving obedience more than sacrifice. However good his intentions were, he still wasn’t obedient. The statement – if imperfection meets perfection, imperfection is destroyed-is a powerful one.
Thanks for visiting my blog the other day!
What a great blog this is,thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights.

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Oh, this story slayed me for a long time. I had to stop reading the Bible until it made sense. I am so glad that God has had an answer to every single doubt I’ve ever had – and I’ve had many more than I can count. Thank you very much for your kind words. God bless you Laurie.

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A. March 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Craig, this makes sense, the way you explain it. It is a sad, sobering thought. That is what sin does, isn’t it: produces sad, wrenching fruit. Obedience…not sacrifice; I am thankful for that reminder, too, Laurie.

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

It is sad. God being sad – it happens. And that’s sad. And he’s had a lot of sadness to deal with just because he made us. But then – we make him happy too I think. (◠‿◠)

God bless you A.

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Dawn March 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

To me this is one of your best posts ever! I feel like I am standing on holy ground. This has always been one of the most difficult passages of Scripture for me. Not until now could I see how it points us to His perfection and majesty. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Stroke Laska backwards for the dogs and me,
Dawn

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Thank YOU Dawn. thank you so much. that’s all – just thanks! God bless you.

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Brooke March 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Thank you, Craig! This has been one of those “mysteries” that I’ve read and read and it just bothers me. Star Trek analogy was the ticket:)

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The star trek analogy. Who knew? Thank you very much for reading Brooke. thank you. God bless you and yours.

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Abby March 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I too like the way you unfolded this…I think you are right about God’s heart being sad and it is good to be quiet and really enter what it is for our imperfection to separate us from God–in any season, but yes, now more communally as many believers walk through Lent. Anything that shows us more of His heart and fills us with compassion for those who do not know this Holy God…who fills the earth with His Glory…well, that is amazing…bless you today and always:-)

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

The thing about God being sad – the ruler of everything, above and beyond us – so big – complicated – three but one – and so simple – love – I think he can be sad about all those he’s made that he’ll never get hug.

And there should always be a “so what” to any theology – and you have captured the so what that I should have mentioned – thank you for this, that this sadness Our Lord might feel – it should, as you put it, fill “us with compassion for those who do not know this Holy God” – Amen, amen. Thank you. God bless you Abby.

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Mari March 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Funny, I was reading Uzziah earlier today. Ive had the same reaction, thinking “God, isint that a little much?” But I like the clear way in which you’ve presented this (even to a non-Trekie)!

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Thank you Mari. I had that exact same thought before finding the answer. The answer was always couched in some sort lack of obedience or faith or disrespect for God. But I don’t think it was. Like all of Our Lord’s rules – the one’s for the Ark were for protection – not limitation. God Bless you Mari, grace and peace for the girl plus grace {smile}

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Debbie March 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Thank you so much, Craig! I wondered too, with everyone else, about this zapping for trying to do a good thing. You’ve helped me to know Him more through this post. . .thank you! And I love how you stay with Him over something that bothers you until He clears it up for you. God bless you as you continue to teach us!

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I don’t teach Deb. You guys teach me. I learn stuff, I overflow what he gives. It’s all him – he teaches, he writes down the answers – and lets me copy.

A million doubts can be climbed all the way to faith. I like climbing (◠‿◠) God Bless

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Miz Liz March 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Ahhh. Again, old age bows to bright youth. Thank you Craig. Even if it took Trekkieness to explain sin. Doesn’t it just follow, PTL, that WOW… Jesus goes looking for me and holds me close. What amazing love to get us so touchable by our Abba Father. You are dear, Craig. Thank you. Liz

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Craig March 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm

No, my first commenter, Emilie, that’s wisdom with youth – I’m old and getting older by the minute – but compared to how old we’ll be 1,000 years from now – we’re both young – you and I. (◠‿◠)

And, 0h, I wish I wrote this, “Jesus goes looking for me and holds me close. What amazing love to get us so touchable by our Abba Father.” Amen – and God bless you Liz.

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Kara March 29, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Craig,
My son was just wondering about Uzzah and the Ark the other day….. the fairness of it all… I could tell he was smarting at the seemingly harsh sentence served Uzzah… but he always wants to be careful about questioning God. Tomorrow, I plan to share this post with him. You unwrapped that ‘problem’ very well Craig. You’ve given me something to ponder tonight! :)
A poem tomorrow?! How fun! I can’t wait! :) Do you link up with Emily at Imperfect Prose? I can’t remember if you do, but it would be great for you to share it with others in that way. You are a great writer and give a good read!

Blessings,
Kara

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Craig March 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

Your son is wise – wiser than I have been most of my life – questioning God is – well – questionable (◠‿◠). On the other hand, if I didn’t question almost everything about Our Lord, and then brought the doubts to him, and dug like crazy until I found my answers – I wouldn’t have the faith I’ve grown into. The one that knows that it knows – and for the most part – why it knows.

I don’t link up with Emily yet – I hate to link up and not read everybody in the link. There are So many people in Ann’s link I can’t even get to everyone there – Mom always said do one thing at a time, do it well, and only then move on. And also the “don’t bite off more than you can chew” thing. She still nags from heaven (◠‿◠).

Thank you for your kind words, I hardly ever tell them to myself. So they’re good to hear. God Bless you.

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Debra March 30, 2011 at 12:09 am

On the Easter poem… I say go for it! Because you’re always inspired Craig – always.
On Uzzah reaching out and steadying the Ark of the Covenant… I’ve had a hard time with this story for years. It’s just not like the God I know to zap someone for pure intentions. Sometimes I’ve wondered if there might be some mistranslation here. Maybe Uzzah just died of a heart attack and it was just a coincidence that he dropped dead after touching the heart… No?
And Abraham sacrificing his son has troubled me too. Just saying. I like the New Testament better. I like the Jesus who touched and healed the unclean. The lepers and the hookers alike. That’s the God I know best.

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Craig March 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

Poetic inspiration – ugh – the herding cats analogy applies.

And a heart attack. No. The text clearly says God was angry – and took his life. The Abraham thing. I may write on that sometime over on Deep into Scripture – it’s complicated and brimming with meaning. But it was different in the time of Abraham. It was way way way before the Ten Commandments. The only “Law” he knew was the law of the time. As way out of the ordinary as this sounds to us – it would have been sad – but not out of the ordinary for a guy who had conversations with God. Maybe more later – does that help?

The NT is a little more warm and fuzzy – but time and history change things – for instance you wouldn’t be able to have a blog – or write as you do – just have babies – and when you were done with that – kind of be tossed to the side. Those times weren’t all warm and fuzzy either. Your words are so good – and they’d never get a chance to be written. We have to take both OT and NT – like it or not. That being said – I definitely see your point – and don’t think I haven’t thought it myself – many times (◠‿◠).

God bless you Debra,

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Michelle March 30, 2011 at 3:31 am

It is what it is,
if imperfection meets perfection, imperfection is destroyed,
even if imperfection had good intentions.

This explains sooooo much! Thank you.

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Craig March 30, 2011 at 10:09 am

It’s the only answer that would have satisfied me – I’m glad it was there to be unraveled. It could have been a deal breaker for a young faith. God knew what he was doing with me – and with poor Uzzah. God bless you Michelle. Thank you for reading.

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Melissa May 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

I’m not a Trekkie (I had to look up the source of “Live long and prosper” when someone wrote it in my school yearbook), but I like the way you’ve explained it. The story of Uzzah is one that has troubled me, too. It seems as though reaching out to catch the Ark was an instinctive response, and it doesn’t seem right for him to be punished for it. But you’re right, and we can never forget that our God is holy, holy, holy.

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Craig May 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm

as I was studying this passage so many of the commentators remarked that Uzzah and the carriers of the Ark weren’t doing it by the rules – and it’s true they weren’t – still I don’t think it was God being angry and smiting someone for breaking the rule – it was the reason for the rule being there – that’s the heart of the story. We can’t be perfect – perfectionism is a silly pursuit when we stop and realize that it’s impossible to be perfect unless we are made perfect by THE PERFECT ONE. And Amen, Melissa, our God is holy, holy, holy. Thank you for your comment I hearted it – and God bless and keep you and all of yours this day.

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Lisa notes... May 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Great way to explain the Uzzah story because it’s always troubled me! You’ve done it again, Craig.

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Craig May 27, 2011 at 9:52 am

thank you Lisa. That poor guy, the moment I read that story as a new Christian I could only think one thing ” that poor guy”. But when I think of anything lasting forever – anything – there seems only one requirement – perfection. We need to be perfect to last forever – and we (read I) am so far from perfect… Except… Grace. Thank you again Lisa and God bless and keep you and all of yours this day!

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Caroline May 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Craig, you typically find a way to take something so complicated and make some kind of sense of it. Mind-blowing sense. And, I’m going to thank my family, because I *totally* got the Star Trek references. (My brother could actually tell you *exactly* how every piece of engineering on the Enterprise worked. I’m not that good, but I loved Star Trek.) And then thank you for doing the referencing. Thank you.

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Craig May 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

Caroline, God bless your brother – otherwise this would’ve made any sense :-) there was so much about our Lord that was “mind blowing”– so much about him – so many doubts – I had to address them all before I could believe – and our Lord was patient with me – and met me at the point of each doubt. This was one of those doubts. Live long and prosper, Caroline :-)and thank you again.

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