Monthly Archives: February 2013

Faking it

"I am a perfectionist and one thing about me is that I practice until my feet bleed and I did not have time to rehearse with orchestra," the Grammy-winning artist said on Thursday.

She said her decision to mime the track was triggered by the weather, delays and "no proper soundcheck", adding that pre-recording is "very common in the music industry".

"It was a live television show and a very, very important emotional show for me and one of my proudest moments," she said.

This is Beyonce trying out a new expression of perfection in the wake of her appearance at the US presidential inauguration: when you want it to be the very best, just fake it. Not confident enough to sing it? Just be confident enough to know how to mime to it.

No one is saying that Beyonce is not talented because she mimed.  And that’s not what she is trying to address in her comments above. Instead we are just feeling a bit cheated. When we feel cheated we feel a some of life is sucked out of us and out of her talent too. But of course this has less to do with perfection and more to do with maintenance of an unsustainable image.

Trying to be perfect isn’t restricted to the likes of Beyonce. Jesus has kept his followers on their toes for a couple of millennia by saying

But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount,  Jesus’ word picture of what a life centred on God might look like as it is lived in the real world. Like most people I find these words hard because I live my life miming,  hoping that God won’t know the difference.

But what did he mean? Is perfect really perfect?   The Greek word the author of Matthew uses implies not an achievement, but a state of being,  like saying when you live this way you will be living the way you were created to live and therefore you will find life.

We think of perfection and immediately think of the gymnast who scores a perfect 10 or the piano recital with no missed notes.  When we see that perfect performance, we don’t see all the fluffs and tantrums and the practice that wasn’t done because they decided to watch the Simpsons instead. No performance is flawless. Instead it is done to a standard that sweeps us along past the mistakes as we are transported to a place where life seems better and more meaningful.

Jesus is not saying “be flawless as your father is flawless”.

Brian McLaren puts it like this:

Perfect is not “no mistakes and no blemishes”; it is following a pattern that gives life to others even if it feels foolish or weak to do so. Like when you have a really good night out and describe it as “perfect”. It wasn’t in the technical sense. But it gave you life, took away your worries, made you fall in love (or rediscover it), gave you a break, helped you make a discovery. Life was better because of that night out – it was perfect.

Following Jesus is not about fearing imperfection and therefore not trying. Following Jesus is about stepping out in confidence that my life in him might give life to someone else. What could be better than that?