In Pursuit of Perfection?

Prior to this week, there were only four teams in NFL history to reach a record of 12-0. The 1934 Chicago Bears started 12-0 before eventually losing the NFL championship game. The 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 1985 Bears and 1998 Denver Broncos all reached 12-0, and all three eventually won the Super Bowl. But eyes this week are focused on the Indianapolis Colts who last week joined those teams as only the fifth team ever to start the season at 12-0.

This week, the question around the NFL is, ‘Can the Colts go undefeated all season?' Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins have run the table with a perfect 17-0 season. No team has come close in 33 years.

With a win over the Jaguars, not only do the Colts keep their winning streak alive, but they can also clinch the AFC South Division and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They then have challenging games the next two weeks against San Diego and Seattle before closing the season against Arizona .

But head Coach Tony Dungy recently told a Sports Illustrated writer he would rest his starters once they have clinched their division and home field advantage in the playoffs, and in doing so risk blowing a perfect season.

“Your whole plan is to win the Super Bowl,'' Dungy said. “While it would be nice to be 16-0 [heading into the playoffs]. They don't give out rings for 16-0. They give out rings for winning the Super Bowl. And everything we do will be with that goal in mind.''

Tony Dungy has it right. While many people would love to see the Colts go undefeated, the coach knows that the real goal is to win the Super Bowl. Coach knows that having his players well rested prior to entering the playoffs is more important than winning all of their games, because it gives his players the best chance to win the prize.

Sometimes we as people lose sight of the big picture too. We think that we have to be perfect before we can start going to church. In doing so we lose sight of God's true goal for our lives. How many times have you heard someone say, “If I went to church I would probably be struck by lightning?” A person who says that thinks they have to be perfect before they go to church. Is that really realistic?

Even those who do go to church on a regular basis often have the same false belief that God expects perfection and good performance from them. Quite often, people with a heavy heart have told me (Nathan) that ‘There is no way God could ever love or forgive me after all the terrible things I have done.' They too focus on how far they've fallen short of perfection instead of what God really wants.... a love relationship with them.

God's goal is not that you lead a perfect life. God already promised to make you perfect by forgiving your sins if you ask Him to. In His eyes, once you have asked forgiveness, you already are perfect! From then on, God simply wants to come into your life, change your heart and make you more like Him. The goal is not perfection today. Like the Colts winning the Super Bowl, the God's ultimate prize for you is Heaven at the end of your life. That is your true goal. Until then, He wants to make you more like Him: Loving, kind, joyful, patient, self-controlled, merciful, compassionate and full of goodness.

As we start this second half, reflect on Jesus' attitude toward a woman caught in adultery. This is the same way that God regards you -- you with all of your imperfections, sin, and failings.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. – John 8:7-11

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