Waiting for the perfect that doesn’t exist

Published 5:54 pm Wednesday, July 7, 2021

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Someone has defined the noun, procrastination, as “the act of ruining your life for no apparent reason.” That sounds a little harsh. Then again, we’ve all sacrificed the possibilities of at least a few tomorrows on the altar of inaction today. I actually saw a superhero figure in one cartoon. She’s there, all dressed in her superhero costume, cape and all. Her name? “The Masked Procrastinator”— protecting her city from crime and evildoers. Maybe this afternoon or tomorrow IF she gets a chance. 

Have you ever gotten stuck, knowing there is a task you need to do but for some reason you just keep putting it off? Perhaps today’s just not a good day to tackle that. You’ll do it tomorrow. You don’t have everything you need. You’ll wait until you have everything all set up. You’re not sure how the person is going to take the news you need to give them. You’ll wait until they’re in a better place before you have that talk with them.

There is a saying, “Procrastination is the thief of all time.” We put things off for all manner of reasons we may not even be in touch with. There is anxiety about failure or a lack of structure. Maybe expectations are simply too high. Sometimes, the unpleasantness of what needs to be done makes us hesitant. This Sunday was Father’s Day, and my first one since we lost my Dad. He wasn’t perfect. But he did teach us a lot of things, including the satisfaction that can come from work well-done and responsibilities met. 

If you’ve been worshipping with us these last few weeks as we’ve studied from 2 Corinthians, you know that the apostle Paul was having a tough family conversation with the Corinthian church. Maybe he’d tried several drafts of this letter, only to start over a few times. Maybe he’d put off writing to them. I don’t know. 

All of that housekeeping notwithstanding in this letter, Paul has some other agenda. He had work to do, like imploring the Corinthians to accept Christ’s grace right now while they may. They can’t work to earn grace. But they do need to accept it. Each one of them who inhabited the Corinthian church would have to make the decision individually, although collectively they could then work together to embody the faithful response to grace in Jesus Christ.

One writer asks us all why is it so difficult, then, to embrace the grace of God? What stands in the way of that possibility? I think that may very well be the key issue as we respond to the scripture in 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13. Paul didn’t have an easy life. His work was difficult. In fact, this legendary preacher was going to set aside anything that a good preaching professor would teach you now. He violated several tenets of sound sermon delivery in this letter and just laid out there an impassioned justification of himself and his fellow missionaries.

I don’t know if the apostle was a father in the conventional sense. But he sure was a father to this church. We see so many of the apostle Paul’s shortcomings on display in this segment. His excesses, insecurities and vulnerabilities are clear. So, how did he end up making so strong an appeal for Christ from all this? The apostle was digging deep, just trying to get their attention and ours. He talks of his own hardship, when you aren’t really supposed to. He enumerates the price he’s paid for the mission when you aren’t really supposed to. He makes himself both a hero and a sympathetic character, when every rule of preaching says you don’t get to. 

The apostle Paul was basically saying there’s more at stake here than the trendy spirituality or the religious lingo of the week. There’s more at stake here than the squabble of the moment. There’s more at stake than the whim of following this charismatic local leader or that, or in following our own selfish wants. 

Paul was trying to get a church to look and act more like a church by being a church, and to do so now. He was trying to get Christians to look and act more like Christians now by being more like Jesus. No putting it off until another day. That’s what he was trying to do here. Which is what makes this church father’s appeal timeless today.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.