Excellence is not Perfection

Excellence in our service to God is great, whether worshipping through music or caring for the needy. But excellence is not perfection. To excel literally means to rise out from somewhere, like a rocket or a comet. We shine as we shoot out into the darkness, bringing the lights of God’s praises into view for all the world to see like bursting fireworks in celebration of His deeds and His attributes. Excellence is instead complete use of our talents. So don’t worry about being perfect, it’s impossible right now. But you can be excellent: you can be the best you were designed to be on this Earth this side of our perfection as New Jerusalem.

Only when we’ve become New Jerusalem will we be able to praise Him perfectly. Then we will see Him face to face, but now, like Paul says, we see through a mirror, darkly and dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). Imagine a mirror made of something other than the clear glass we’re used to: a mirror of bronze or gold. We can see a general shape in it, but detail is obscured all over, the image blurred, essentially all darkened by metal. These were the mirrors the ancients used.

Right now we can only do our best. And our best is all He requires. Think of the animal sacrifices from the OT. They were required to be without blemish and perfect. Can an animal be perfect? Perfection here really means completeness: all four legs, a head, a tail, and all its guts. And without blemish? That means means uncorrupted from the ideal: no disease, no cuts, no bruises.

Our praises, worship, and service should excel with this in mind. Our uniqueness and talents must work together as best we can (since we are still human and not divine). If God wanted divine praise He’d do it himself—instead he wants us, the imperfect but complete, to praise him. Imperfect because we haven’t yet reached conformation to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). But complete because we do have his Son in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17)

That’s how we’ll be presented to Christ as his Bride: without blemish (Ephesians 5:27)—that is, complete and without corruption. Christ is working in the Church to make us that way. But the things that make us unique, the so-called imperfections, or rather the design elements that God like an artist put in each of us, will come together as a grand sculpture, the united but living Body of his Bride. Beautiful because we are human, stunning because we were made by Him, glorious because we carry his Image. That’s New Jerusalem, you know: his Church decked out as his shining Bride (Revelation 21:1-8)

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