I like to finish things. It’s why I enjoy doing book covers–completed in a matter of hours–even while I’m writing a novel–which takes weeks or months. It’s why I like knitting scarves rather than sweaters or blankets. It’s why on days when I spend the whole day on an extravagant dessert for a party, I’ll then make a very quick and simple dinner.

I don’t shy away from long projects. But I always pair them with short ones. Because I need that hit of dopamine that comes with checking something off my list at the end of each day. I need to feel like I’ve not just accomplished but completed something.

I’ve thought a lot about the value of work from a spiritual perspective, but I’d never really paused to ponder the spiritual value of completion until my husband read this quote to me from a book on Revelation called The Lamb’s Supper, by Scott Hahn*. (Hilariously, I’d already read the book myself and was the one to recommend it to him, LOL, but this totally didn’t jump out at me when I read it.)

“Meanwhile, our enemy, the Beast, consecrates nothing. He works tirelessly, sometimes intimidating us by his industry; but his labors are sterile. He is 666, the creature stalled in the sixth day, perpetually in travail, yet never reaching the seventh day of sabbath rest and worship.”

That totally resonated with me this time around, probably because David and I have talked a lot in recent months, as he’s chipping away at a big project, about how frustrating and unfulfilling it can be to work and work and work and never finish. To strive without achieving the goal. To put in the effort and even the pain without reaping the reward. It can feel like labor with no baby at the end. Medical treatment that makes you sick but doesn’t actually cure the disease. I can handle chemo side effects, for instance, when I know they’re working because I can feel that tumor shrinking (praise God!). But if it wasn’t? If I was sick and it made it worse? I can imagine how that would make me feel, and it wouldn’t be good.

But I’d never paused to think about why. To view it from the eternal. But let’s look at it for a moment through that lens Hahn gives here.

God worked–and in so doing, He created a world of good things. He paused each day to consider what He’d done and found it good…but He didn’t stop. He didn’t actual stop until it was finished, and what did He do then? He rested. He reached completion and then He enjoyed the rest. He sat back (metaphorically speaking) and enjoyed what He’d done.

This is why the Ancient Jews viewed the number 7 as synonymous with perfection. Because perfection doesn’t just mean “without flaw” as we think of it today. Perfection, in ancient languages, reflects completeness.

And this carried over into the understanding of Christ and faith in Him as well.

Over Easter, I remember being struck by one of the readings. Specifically, there was a line about how, through His suffering, Christ was made perfect. I was ready to argue–because Christ was already perfect, right? He was without sin! Then I realized that this was from Hebrews 5:8-9. So, yeah, I can’t argue, LOL. Instead, I have to understand. And in context, the writer of Hebrews had already acknowledged that Christ was without sin. Always without sin…but made perfect through the suffering of the cross.

Do you see the subtle difference there? A lamb selected for Passover is always without flaw, must be without flaw. But being pure and blameless does not work salvation. Dying, being slain, being offered up is what does that. Christ being without sin was amazing–but only amazing. His perfection would not have saved us had He not offered himself up on the cross. That obedience, that work, that suffering as a sinless man is what resulted in perfection–completeness–wholeness.

He worked, and through that work, achieved something great. He worked, He completed, and that was when He gained perfection in the ancient sense–He had completed His purpose, His work, His entire point of being born as a human.

He rested on that sabbath day–which was both an ordinary sabbath and High Holy Day that year, a perfect culmination of rest. And then we know what happened. He did something else. He rose. He began something new. Something no Passover lamb could ever do. He instituted a new creation in that moment, one we partake of, one that undergirds our entire faith.

The most ancient Christian document we have is the Didache, which literally means “The Teaching.” More specifically, it’s “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” Before the Gospels were even written down, before Paul had written all of his letters and they had been compiled, the disciples had written down a few guidelines. It was basically a pamphlet, a handbook for how to be a Christian. This little document was very widespread and distributed, and when you read it, you see that it’s like a skeleton that the Gospels and Epistles fleshed out in more detail.

Well, in this document there’s a term used for the day when believers gather together. Some translations yield it as “the Lord’s Day,” others just go ahead and say “the first day of the week.” But the Greek is something interesting. It actually says “the sabbath’s sabbath.” Now, when we try to reason out what that means, we can see why people go with the literal translation–if the sabbath is the last day of the week, the end, what follows after those first six days, then its sabbath is the next day. But it’s so much more than that in meaning. It’s the day of completeness, not just of creation but of salvation. God rested on the sabbath, thereby finishing creation. Jesus rose on the first day, thereby finishing salvation.

It’s that completeness, that perfection that truly sets a thing. And that is why the disciples instituted worship on the day Christ rose. But notice how it still pays honor to the original creation, which was just a foretaste, a foreshadowing. Much like Christ’s offering completes and fulfills and perfects the original Passover, so does His resurrection complete and fulfill and perfect creation itself.

Completing things is important. It’s part of how we partake of that divine creation both God the Father and God the Son did. And while some of us are perfectionists and want everything to be without flaw, I think this is a critical lesson–there’s no such thing as perfect-but-unfinished. Perfection requires completeness without blemish.

So strive to do well, yes…but also strive to finish. Because otherwise, we are trapped in that same striving of the Enemy, who works and works and works but never reaches that point of rest–never reaches fullness, completion. Perfection.

That is not what we’re called to, friends. We are called to rest with Him, knowing our work is truly complete…and therefore perfect, through His sacrifice.

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