In a recently released survey published in the Psychological Bulletin results revealed a problem that plagues Millennials and the Gen Z crowd. It is what one account termed the “irrational desire.” It is the pursuit of perfectionism.
The results of the study
The study concluded that between 1989 and 2016 society’s demands have created a meritocracy that increasingly burdens our newer generations with the need to be perfect in the work place and their social interactions. This in turn creates an unrealistic demand on their fragile psyche increasing the incidence of depression and its partner suicidal ideation.
Even Jesus said, “you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Matthew 5:48. But what Christ said is by many exegetes either misapprehended or dismissed as inscrutable. And the fact that we have a less than perfect understanding of perfectionism as evidenced by the 2014 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.
The second leading cause of death among the younger generations between the ages of 10-34 is suicide. Accidental death is the leading cause in this age group. Statistically speaking, the only killer greater among the younger generation than intentional death is unintentional death.
The incidence of suicide is growing among the younger generation
The news is rife with the rising tide of those ending their own lives, and the incidence of suicide is evident across the societal spectrum. No one is immune, even pastors and their children can be found among the deadly statistics.
So Jesus’ call to perfection appears to add fuel to this contemporary fire. But though it may seem counterintuitive, Jesus’ call to perfection is actually the antidote for perfectionism.
You see, the push for perfectionism existed even in His day. The religious leaders of Israel had adopted a set of rules to augment what the Scriptures taught. It was a manmade attempt at self-righteousness.
Jesus condemned their teachings saying, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders,” and countered their demands, with His teaching “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Peter would later admit these religious leaders had created a system of perfection so difficult “neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear,” Acts 15:10.
Jesus said to love God and others
When these religious leaders questioned what Jesus taught as commandments, He told them the greatest commandment is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 22:36-39.
Jesus said the Law of Moses is fulfilled and God is satisfied when we do these two things. The German theologian Albert Schweitzer purportedly condensed Jesus’ words even further writing Jesus gave us only one commandment, “to love.”
Of course, loving is not something we can do alone imperfect as we are. But He has promised to never leave us so there is help to be had, and we need not worry what others may think because we do not have to live up to their standard of perfection. Perfection is as simple as loving God and others.