Perfection vs Potential
We all know that no-one is perfect, and yet we are told that practice makes perfect. To be a perfectionist is sometimes seen as a crutch, while at other times we are encouraged to strive for perfection.
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, taught about an idea called Christian Perfection and asserted that followers of Christ could experience this ideal.
In Genesis, we read that God created the world and humanity and declared that it was good. Many claim that this implies that God's original Creation was perfect.
Danielle Shroyer suggests that perhaps "a more appropriate view of creation would be not perfection but potential. God designed the world to develop and function in a certain way, while allowing for creation to live freely into its potential. Sometimes creation will live up to and into its potential, while other times it will renounce it.... Potential reminds us once again that goodness is both an origin and a goal. It is given to us as a gift, but it is also given to us as a calling."
I think that this is a good way to understand God's Creation. All of God's creation, from the earth to the animals to humanity, has the potential to be good as God intended. However, at times, because of our own greed and selfishness, we ensure that we, and the environment around us, do not live up to its God-given potential.
This understanding is in-line with Wesley's idea of Christian Perfection which is not an ideal of which to strive for, but rather an ongoing journey towards holiness, a process of becoming more and more Christlike.
I believe that this is our ultimate potential as human beings - to become like Christ. The more loving and merciful we become, the more we are living into our potential as God's created beings. The better stewards we become of the environment, the more we are helping the Earth and the animal Kingdom reach its potential as God's creation.
"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:12
Image Source: Vitolda Klein