“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” —Luke 2:52
I recently just released my first book entitled Priesthood Prayer: Learning to Pray Like Christ. The book is a 21-day devotional about the role of Christ as High Priest and the pertinent connection of His role to Christians as intercessors. During my launch party one of my very dear friends, Duke Hall, interviewed me. He asked me some questions about the content of my book, and how I arrived at some of the points I made. One chapter in my book is “His Perfecting for Our Perfection,” and it’s about how Christ walked this life out daily, without sinning, so that He can give us His perfection through the power He gained as He perfected this walk for us.
Duke gleaned a question from this chapter and asked me, “Were there any bent nails in Joseph’s shop?” I was first confused when he asked that. I thought to myself, “Who is Joseph? What shop does he own? And what does he and his entrepreneurship have to do with this interview?” I was completely lost. So, I asked him what he meant by that.
He then said, “Jesus’ father. Joseph. Were there any bent nails in his shop? Meaning, as Jesus worked with His father, do you think that He made any mistakes since He was perfect? Do you wonder if He ever bent a nail while learning the art of carpentry?” I had to pause and think because I’ve never thought that Christ may have made a mistake while He grew up.
We often make the life of Christ black and white. What I mean by that is we tend not to think about how Christ identified with us in every way. When we think about Christ being perfect, we always relegate His time here on Earth to a focus of never sinning. But we miss the beauty of the Supreme God who came and identified with us in every aspect of life. He had to grow into the person He died and resurrected as. This means that it is plausible Christ may have made some mistakes. Now, while there is nothing recorded in scripture that says He did, it doesn’t mean He didn’t.
Now get me on this. A mistake is different from sin. They are not synonymous. When someone makes a mistake, they have not necessarily broken a law or done something immoral. But if someone sins, that is a definite breach of law and an offense. So, when my friend asked the question, “Were there any bent nails?” again I say it’s plausible to say yes! There may have been. Christ, like us, had to learn things in this life. He “grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.” During the growth process kinks have to be worked out. Everything is not done perfectly the first time. Christ definitely never sinned, but a bent nail or two may have existed. This is beautiful because we can look at our Savior and say, “You do get me. Not only do you understand being tempted, but you also understand me not getting something on the first try.” Why is this an epiphany for me. Because I’m a perfectionist. If I don’t get something on the first try, I can have a hissy fit. Shut down. Become lazy and never try again.
When I was a little girl taking violin and flute, I used to slam them on the couch if I played a note wrong. I knew not to slam them on the ground and break them as I really wanted to, because my momma would have whoop’d my tail! God has even told me as an adult to pick the violin back up and start learning how to play again. He showed me in a dream that it is healing for the remainder of the insecure little girl that is left in me. The one that likes to get things right all in the first try or no effort at all. That little girl, living inside this grown woman, that hates process and working through kinks — she wants everything to be beautiful instantly. Anyone that plays a string instrument knows that violin is not something you learn overnight.
So, I write this for the perfectionist, I write this to the person who thinks that who they are is tied up in how well they do something. I write this to the person that feels like “why is everyone else getting it but me?” I write this to the person that is about to quit. Don’t! I believe Christ has been there and understands the growing pains. He knows our frustrations and insecurities. The only thing that we are commanded to do perfectly is love (Matthew 5:43-48). So, the next time you see a bent nail, remember that Christ gets it. Not only does He get it, He gets you!
Peace and God’s abundant blessings.
Adia Taliaferro is an associate pastor at Ebenezar SDA Church in Philadelphia and author of the book Priesthood Prayer: Learning to Pray Like Christ. In her spare time, she loves to cook and eat good vegan food with friends. Adia also loves to travel, hangout with friends, and do anything fun and adventurous.
This essay originally appeared on the author’s blog and is reprinted here with permission.
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