It seems a pity that the number of pea-shooting enthusiasts for a world championship fits onto just one village green, but there it is. Accuracy, not distance, is the aim of this competition in Witcham, Cambridgeshire, with contestants shooting a pea through a 12-inch tube, 12 feet towards a 12-inch target. Preparation is intense. Growing the most aerodynamic pea and discovering the most effective launch pad (even laser-guided shooters are not considered cheating) can be a year round commitment. Few contestants will be satisfied unless they hit the bull’s eye.
Striving for perfection provides motivation in a wide range of human activity. It can be taken to extremes. Many people are unhappy with themselves unless they always hit the bull’s eye. Such perfectionism usually leads them to a permanent sense of dissatisfaction. But there is value all the same in having a challenging target.
What Jesus suggested we aim for, in a passage about loving even our enemies, was that we become who God made us to be. He uses a word usually translated ‘perfect’ which means more accurately ‘the state of having fulfilled a purpose’. Like God, who is completely loving by nature, each of us is called to be the fully and completely loving person we were made to be. But because each of us is unique, the way we achieve this goal and the way being fully loving is reflected in each of us will be different from everyone else. The target for human beings suggested in these words of Jesus is that each of us becomes the person we were made to become.
We can give up on perfection as a goal if it means always being successful or permanently in the right. The bull’s eye that’s really worth trying to hit is becoming the person God created us to be.
Read: Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5.48)
Rejoice: in the delight of discovering my uniqueness.
Reflect: am I too keen to get everything exactly right?
Remember: no one was ever denied God’s support because they failed.
Resolve: to learn something more about myself today.