Sermon Text: Nobody's Perfect, and I'm Not Kidding
My wife and daughter have me all figured out. My daughter has heard my wife talk about me. But my daughter is not clear on nomenclature.
So she says that I am “OC / DC.”
Nobody’s perfect — but I’d hoped an exception would be made in my case.
I am one of those people who grew up persnickety, or compulsive, or perfectionistic. I know that nobody’s perfect, but I thought I was supposed to try really, really hard — and maybe, just maybe, I would get there.
Life has a way of kicking that idea out of us perfectionists.
I shoulda paid more attention when I was reading the Bible. Those people in that book were definitely not perfect. And they were the Bible guys!
Think about it — Adam and Eve made bad choices. Cain killed his own brother. Abraham and Sarah were too old. Jacob was a liar. Joseph was abused. Moses had a speech impediment. Jeremiah, as we heard last week, was too young. King David was an adulterer and a murderer. Isaiah preached naked, and Jonah ran away.
Mary of Nazareth was an unwed mother. Martha was a worrier. Zacchaeus was too short. Nobody’s perfect.
Then there were the Bible guys we heard about today.
Paul claimed to be an apostle, but he knew he was not a perfect one. He wrote about how the Risen Christ appeared to the apostles, and then, “last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me. For I am least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” Nobody’s perfect, and Paul certainly had his issues.
Then there is Peter. Jesus provides Peter with a miraculous catch of fish, and it starts to dawn on Peter this person in front of him is in some way divine. He falls on his knees and says, “Go away, Lord, I’m just a sinful man.” This is one of the few times Peter got it right. Peter had his issues. He would prove to be impulsive, foolish, and unreliable. He would brag that he would never desert his beloved Jesus. And then later that same night he would desert his beloved Jesus. Nobody’s perfect, and Peter certainly had his issues.
This is the story again and again. From beginning to end, the Bible is full of people who have issues, people who are fallible and frail, people who are sometimes fakers.
Nobody’s perfect. But it turns out that God works with fallible, frail, imperfect people. Because that’s the only kind there is.
Now, no one sings the praises of St. Mark’s more than I do. I hope you know how proud I am of you, and how I brag to outsiders about what a great bunch you are.
But my love for you is not blind. This is not a perfect church. There are no perfect people listed in our directory. Nobody’s perfect, and that includes you. And me, too.
But that does not stop God. Imperfect people are the ones God chooses and God uses, because that’s the only kind of people there are. We could name this parish “The Church of the Second Chance.” We are not perfect, but we can be forgiven.
There’s a great kids’ story about an art class. The elementary school art students were using plasticine. It’s like clay. But it won’t harden, so you can use it over and over again.
One girl in the art class made a very nice looking creature with wings. She held it up to show the other kids. “Look,” she said, “an angel!” The other children liked it. Then the girl rolled her sculpture back up into a ball. She held up the ball of plasticine and said, “Okay, what’s this?” One boy guessed, “A ball?” “Nope,” she said, “it’s a hiding angel.”
So a few days later the principal visited the class. One of the boys pointed at a ball of plasticine on the shelf and said to the principal, “Know what this is? It’s a hiding angel.”
And that is the God’s-eye view of us. We have angels inside us, ready to be molded and let out.
The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are. I’m going to say that again. The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.
Think of all the Bible guys. They were fallible. They were frail. They were sometimes even fake. Thing is, they all had angels inside, waiting to be sculpted and let out.
Paul had his issues, but the Risen Christ had work for him to do. Peter had his issues, but Christ had work for him to do. You and I have our issues, but Christ has work for us to do.
Nobody’s perfect. But that won’t stop God. God chooses and uses imperfect people,
because that’s the only kind of people there are.
And it turns out that God is like that little girl in the art class — God is good at sculpting beautiful angels out of common clay.
And that means you and me.