Hey, it’s me Mark!
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Being an artist can be intimidating. It can scare us. There’s the fear of failure. There’s the fear of making something that isn’t good. What if we make something and it’s bad? What will happen?
As a new parent, this fear can be translated into my role as a father. What if we discover that our child has Down syndrome? Autism? Cleft palate? What if he’s unathletic? What if she’s ugly? What if he can’t do math? What if she doesn’t get into college? Basically, what if our child isn’t perfect?
My child isn’t going to be perfect. He’s going to be a little human being, a little sinner. He’s going to make mistakes. He’s going to fail. He’s going to hurt someone he loves. He’s going to say something that makes someone cry. And I’m going to love him. Love doesn’t require perfection.
As artists, our creations aren’t going to be perfect. They aren’t. We are never going to make something that is perfect. At best, we will make something that has more good in it than bad. There is more to like about it than dislike. And that’s fine.
Think about this: God is an artist too. More than that, he’s a much better artist than we can ever be. His creative power is infinitely greater than ours. In fact, our power isn’t even our own, but merely a participation in his power. He is so much better than us. But look at the creation he made. Look at the flowers, trees, hills, seas, animals and wonder that he made. Look at the pinnacle of creation; man. We are the greatest thing God ever made, even better than the angels. And we are imperfect. We are fallen. We are flawed.
But God loves us anyway. And not just a little. He loves us infinitely. There is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us. Even sin, which separates us from him, doesn’t stop God from loving us. It’s a choice we make, which separates us from God, which hurts him more deeply than we can imagine, but which he allows because he loves us enough to not make us his puppets. He loves us enough to allow us to choose to be imperfect.
Even God, with his infinite artistry, at the peak of his creation, made something that wasn’t perfect. So what should we learn from this as artists? Perfection isn’t the goal.
We must stop limiting our love to those things that are perfect. It’s time to accept the imperfect. Time to embrace the weirdos and freaks. We need to love our strange creations as much as God loves his, and we need to encourage others to do this as well.
How many times have you heard an artist put down something they’ve worked on?
“Oh, it’s just this dumb improv show I’m in.” -a friend of mine who is great.
“I got this tiny little part in a local commercial.” -someone I admire because they are making a living as an actor.
“I wrote a dumb blog post.” -Me.
Can you imagine someone speaking this way about their child?
“Timmy is pretty dumb. Good kid, but real dumb.” -Timmy’s terrible mom.
“Our daughter Lily only took Bronze at Sochi.” -Lily’s parents who have maybe too high standards for Lily.
I guess my point is pretty simple: Let’s all get over perfection.
But, what about “be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect…”?
Sometimes, I get the feeling that some of my Catholic friends want people to be perfect before they can start to love them. Until someone has stopped doing all the fornicating and misbehaving that is robbing them of perfection, we should avoid them because they are obviously a threat to our holiness. We should treat them as a near occasion of sin. Ugh. Gross. People aren’t near occasions of sin. People are near occasions of charity, near occasions of humility, near occasions of virtue.
Yes. We are called to be perfect. But! We are called to be perfect the way that God is perfect. How does he do this? By becoming man and taking on our sins.
Taking on our sins. Sin. Let’s just talk about that for a second.
God became man and took on our sins. But what is sin? Sin is separation from God. So how could God take on sin? How could he separate himself from himself? I don’t know. But he did. So God, who is One, perfect, undivided, containing no contradiction, took on sin and so allowed himself to be divided. To be tainted. To be made imperfect.
Now, we know this didn’t last. We know God wins in the end. And there is probably a 98 percent chance that I’m spouting heresy (and if so, I’m sorry and I completely abandon this claim). But I think it is an interesting thing to think about. I think it can benefit our hearts and souls to meditate on the cross and what it means.
If we say God was divided, hurt, or tainted by sin, it seems to be an attack on the power of God.
But if we say God wasn’t affected by sin, wasn’t injured in some way by taking on our sins, it robs the cross of meaning. If the crucifixion was just a show God put on for us, then it’s a lie.
The cross is not a lie.
To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect is to love so deeply that we care more for those around us than for being perfect.