By Jonathan Ho
I hate making mistakes. I almost entitled this issue “Mistakn”, intentionally including a typo, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I don’t like the idea of people even thinking I may have made a mistake.
There’s a ramen shop in the Boston area called Yume Wo Katare. The name means share your dreams. After you eat a bowl of ramen, you can stand up and share a dream with everyone else. After you share, the workers loudly and encouragingly rate you based on how much you eat. Leave a lot of food and they say, “Next time!” Eat a lot but leave some noodles and they say, “Almost!” Eat everything but the soup, “Good job!” Eat everything and get a “Perfect!” I’ve been there a few times and have always gotten a “Perfect!” I sometimes joke with my friends that I have to get a perfect because I’m Asian. I also often joke that I should go one day and say, “I’ve been here multiple times and have always gotten a perfect. My dream is to be okay with not being perfect,” and then leave the bowl with some soup. I still haven’t done it.
Regardless of whether you’re Asian or not, I believe we all have a strong aversion to being wrong, especially with those who already respect us or those who we want to respect us. We want to be perfect and be seen as perfect, as people who aren’t ignorant. With God, the existence of imperfection reveals the necessity of justice and creates the possibilities of grace and mercy. This is not to say that sin leads to grace, but like stars against the dark sky, God’s goodness contrasts sharply with the backdrop of our sin. Jesus isn’t joking when he says he who has been forgiven little loves little. To love much requires having been forgiven much.1
In a culture of being right, we often fear being wrong. We don’t want the shame of making mistakes, of looking foolish or incompetent, but if we choose that path of fearful inaction then we will fail to experience the fullness of God’s love.
Jesus gives a parable of different servants being given different amounts of money. The only servant who fails is the one who doesn’t invest anything, but buries his talent for fear of upsetting his master. I believe the Kingdom of God is like this. You will reap if you sow and try. You only fail if you refuse to try.
In this issue, I hope to start the discussion on what it means to be imperfect, in personal life and in a broader sense. What does it look like to be imperfect and yet a new creation? What do we do as imperfect people when all our options are also imperfect?
Some may read these articles and feel they present a licentious view of God, a view which ignores God’s holiness. We can go to the extreme of saying, do whatever you want and God will be okay with it, or we can go with the extreme of, we must do everything perfectly if it is to be done.
Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, put it well, writing, “For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.”2
My hope is that you would read these articles knowing God is set apart and perfect, and realize life is as much about us as a kingdom is about its servants.
I pray God may use the articles here to help you to grow in understanding of the depths of his love so that we may walk in perfect grace in a world full of imperfection. May God help us see the importance of taking action, even when the options are imperfect, and may we be willing to weigh options wisely and not assume the wisest path is the safest, most common, or easiest one.
P.S. As always, we’d love to hear from you. How do you wrestle with perfection? We’d love to hear your story. Email email@example.com with any stories, feedback, thoughts, and questions you might have.
1 See Luke 7:47
2 1 Peter 2:16