Monday, June 2, 2008

The Perfect Human Being is Uninteresting

imageI am fascinated by the writings of Joseph Campbell.  Campbell in The Power of  Myth states: "The only way you can describe a human being truly is by describing his imperfections. The perfect human being is uninteresting."

I partly agree and partly disagree with that.  I don't know that any Jesus-follower could totally agree with it.  I find the one perfect human being of Jesus totally interesting.

EXCURSIS:  Is Jesus, however, a special case in this regard?  He is God enfleshed.  He is totally God and yet totally human. He regularly performed miracles, read people's minds, walked on water.  So in one way he IS a special case.  While I have the holy spirit in me, I am NOT God enfleshed.  He must be considered as a special case.

In another way, the whole point of the incarnation is that Jesus is NOT a special case.  He came JUST LIKE WE ARE.  We say, "He became what we are so that we can become what he is."  In our regenerate state, we are supposed to be able to live like him.  We are supposed to be able to live the perfect life that he lived.  We are supposed to be able to have the connection with God that he had.

Before I get myself in deeper than I want to get, let's just say that Jesus is a special case IN THAT he was the only one to ever live a perfectly sinless life.  (End of Excursus)

I find the perfect person of Jesus Christ TOTALLY interesting.  But is it true that the only way you can describe a human being TRULY is by describing his imperfections?  I partially think that that is true.  Certainly you can describe someone in positive terms:  their beneficent actions, their positive character traits, their heart-felt motives.  But for we who are not totally yet sanctified, it is not a complete description of us.  We MUST take into account the imperfections each of us bears.  Some of those imperfections are inborn into us as we are born into an imperfect world.  Other imperfections, we inflict on our selves. 

Too often as we describe Bible characters in our preaching, we make them too one-dimensional.  They become caricatures, rather than living, breathing beings.

As a writer of fiction that is a critical point for me to remember:  people find your characters much more interesting when you paint a full-orbed picture of them, warts and all. 

As a preacher, it is important that we draw full-blown descriptions of the Bible characters about whom we preach.  (As much as we can legitimately know about many of them).  Application comes much easier when the Bible character looks like me...failures and worries and cravings and all. 

No comments:

Visits Since Dec. 11, 2007