I am forever grateful to have been reared in what would today be called an Evangelical Christian Church. Because of that background, I can do Bible with the best of them. While that ability may not appeal to many or any on my blog list, it has provided me with an expanded perspective in my work as an interfaith minister. It is easy for me to understand why people take certain stances in life based on their literal interpretation of sacred writings. I am mostly able to compassion even those that use Biblical writings to malign my own human expression as a gay man. While there are many who think my orientation is a choice that will send me to hell, I know that their identification with that perspective is already a type of hell within my accusers. None of us escapes the pain of our own judgments. Sacred writings of most faiths were not written at a time where literal interpretation was the genre. The juice that comes from the teachings is derived as we read, contemplate, digest, and integrate the symbolic messages at a personal level. Even then there are scriptures that will resonate within us at a deep level, and perhaps even more of them with land flatly within the solar plexus. These are inspired writings of fallible human beings. The inspiration has to come through perceptual filters and programs. Cultural influences are always present, and knowing these factors, at least to some level, provides us with a clearer lens through which we are able to then glean the good.
One scriptural admonition that touched me deeply even in childhood was the commandment to “be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” This notion is one of the key components in a religious prescription that instigated an internal war that still results in periodic battles. My religious formation was framed in the tension between the need to be perfect and my painfully obvious imperfection. I could never measure up to what I thought I had to be. This gave muscle to the tendency to suppress what might authentically arise in my humanity in service of what amounted to a fallacy of spirituality. I thought I had to become perfect in order to “get to God.” I didn’t know that the path home WAS a path of embraced imperfection. I was so busy denigrating myself that I couldn’t hear the whisper within my heart of my own Essential perfection. My legalistic self opinion, aversion, and resistance were what were blocking my experience of my Source. Suppression and denial are not healing. They are suppression and denial.
Central to the illumination of this scripture for me was when I learned that the word perfect in the Aramaic actually meant inclusive. Inclusive! “Be INCLUSIVE even as your Father in heaven is inclusive.” (I will leave the rest of the re-framing for those who choose to look more closely i.e. “Father, heaven.”) Being inclusive doesn’t mean to bring a tenacious scrutiny to all that I thought was unspiritual about myself. Inclusivity did away forever with the leering and punitive God-image of my Evangelical heritage. It invited me to give up my self-assessments and to accept that in my human condition there would be imperfection. It is a given. I am imperfect and that is perfect! Spirituality that is steeped in scrutiny and suppression will never lead to an intimate and transformative sacred experience. My attempts to be perfect only led me to division and denial. When I choose to include all of the parts of my human self the result is spaciousness and a felt-wholeness. I have found that inclusivity is a moment by moment practice, and it is one that leads to increased serenity and self-compassion. With my background it is not always easy. And the rewards of giving into the Inclusivity of my Source are nothing less than monumental.
If I could wave a magic wand over the human race and cast one spell upon the whole it would be for all of us to know the Inclusivity of our Source and the inherent worthiness of our Souls. Theology has inadvertently created a chasm between us and what it is supposed to be pointing to. At a level the mind will never comprehend that we are perfect within our imperfection. We don’t have to strive and struggle and seek for that. It is already so. It is for us to relax into. Be inclusive this day. Embrace it all by surrendering it all. Let go the self-commentary and turn up the self-compassion. Be humble enough to accept both your perfection and your imperfection. Be inclusive even as the One Source is inclusive. And that is just about as perfect as it gets.