God’s creation is very good – but not perfect. Our bodies age and rot; our homes and belongings perish. Moth and rust destroy; thieves break in and steal. Creation is marked by death, disease, and desolation.
We children of the Fall are often good – but we are far from perfect. We lie, cheat, extort, murder, and rape. “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) – but no friend is perfect. Our dearest loved ones betray and abandon us routinely. Selfishness and pride dog our steps; our true motives are often (literally) obscene. God hardly exaggerated when he said that every inclination of man’s heart was evil (Genesis 6:5).
Of course, you say! Who should expect perfection in postlapsarian man, in a postlapsarian world? The new Heaven and Jerusalem are not yet come!
But the imperfection is everywhere. The Scriptures, God-breathed and holy, may once have been perfect, but no more – for our manuscripts, papyri, and codices, though excellent and without parallel in antiquity, are not perfect. Discrepancies, though minor, exist. We can explain many apparent biblical contradictions – but not all. Our translations are faithful, but never identical.
And the Church, the Body of Christ, the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)? How often has She stumbled and fallen! We who bear the seal of God’s Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), even we are slaves and sinners. Jesus’ prayer was for a united Church, and what could be more divided than Christendom? Jesus hated nothing more than religious hypocrisy – and yet his Church is now overrun with it.
And so on. The Bible is often clear – but it often is not. How, then, are we to understand God’s will? God’s presence can be palpable, but even God Himself can seem absent. How, then, are we to seek the living God?
Imperfection everywhere. I see a vast wasteland beneath a red sky: the glory of men turned to dust, the kingdoms of men reduced to rubble. The philosophers are now mad, trapped in the cages of their own splintered minds. The lilies of the field, once beautiful, have all wilted; the streams, once clear as crystal, are polluted. “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” Imperfection everywhere.
And yet – towering above it all – a dominating presence more beautiful and true than anything ever before seen, stark and radiant as the Sun: the rent, tortured body of Jesus Christ, come to resurrect the blood and earth and moon and sky.