A fourteen-year-old gymnast from Romania made world headlines at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Nadia Comaneci had done what once seemed impossible. She had made a score of 10 out of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event. Even the scoreboard computer wasn't programmed to show a score that was perfect according to the Olympic standards. Participants and spectators from all countries cheered her as she kept on giving flawless performances, ending up with three individual gold medals and a bronze medal during the Olympic competition.
Many of us have had that exhilarating experience of watching or being involved in something that just seemed to meet every standard of excellence. There is no question that the highest levels of achievement inspire the human spirit. Whether in sports, the arts, or sciences, we seem to long for the best. We admire examples of it, and strive to see it in some aspect of our lives.
Excellence in human performance points to an unseen spiritual truth - the perfection of man as God's offspring. Absolute perfection can only be found in God, the divine Principle of all creation. ''He is the Rock,'' the Bible tells us, ''his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.'' n1
n1 Deuteronomy 32:4.
''His work is perfect.'' Then we, as God's children, as His creation, are actually perfect. This is the spiritual truth of our being, though certainly not apparent to a mortal, physical sense of life.
Christian Science encourages us to identify ourselves spiritually, as God's perfect creation, in order to progressively demonstrate that perfection - not only in the quality of our work but in the healing of sin and disease. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ''The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, - perfect God and perfect man, - as the basis of thought and demonstration.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 259.
Granted, it may be challenging to hold to this spiritual ideal amid the storms of human discomfort and uncertainty. But it is possible for us to hold to it and to prove, by degrees, the truth of our being. Jesus commanded, ''Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'' n3
n3 Matthew 5:48.
A young boy had a speech problem attributed to a birth defect. With help, he researched the Bible for pertinent, healing ideas, and began to glimpse the spiritual fact that since God made everything, all that truly exists must be absolutely perfect and good. He reasoned that if this is so, he must be perfectly created. The child's dedication to understanding his spiritual perfection as God's child resulted in healing. Within a few short months he was speaking plainly.
Should we pray, then, to find perfection in a physical body, or in material things, or pray for a perfect score? No, a better approach would be to examine our motive. Do we want to improve our understanding of what God is, and our understanding of who we actually are, as God knows us? If we follow up on an honest desire to perfect our view of God and man, more excellence will come into our lives. And holding to the understanding that man's perfection is already established in God progressively frees us from previous mental and physical limitations.
The more we understandingly affirm spiritual excellence to be the fact of creation, the more our thoughts and actions will come into line with such high values as unselfishness, courage, kindness, honesty, and grace. And the effort we make to perfect these qualities in thought will help bring a higher standard to all our endeavors. This isn't a process of becoming a ''perfect,'' nit-picking mortal. Rather, it's the progressive shedding of the mortal and material, of all that's discordant and limited.
As we face daily challenges by identifying with perfection, there probably won't be a panel of judges out there scoring us! But our reward will be much greater than medals or public honor. It will be harmony and healing, and the promise of wonderful things to come. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4