There is a talking teacup named "Chip" in Disney's Beauty and the Beast movie, and on him the chip looks cute. But there is nothing cute about the chips I have made over the years on the set of Mikasa china my mother bequeathed to me decades ago. This is the dinnerware I trot out for special occasions like Christmas and New Years, my regular dishes being mismatched thrift store fare.
There are not many chips, mind you---only two dessert plates, one dinner plate, and one newest nick on the large serving platter. And they are very small, you understand. Nor do they at all inhibit the eating of food, nor endanger the eater. This I tell myself as I vainly seek consolation for having vitiated the heirloom.
It isn't fair, I think. Of the set, 99.9 percent is in as perfect condition as when it left Japan (or New Jersey). And yet, like a new car rolling off the dealership's showroom floor and into your garage, it has instantly depreciated in value, and in some Platonic sphere of the Real, its category was invisibly transferred from the Rare to the Common at the moment of the first crack in the platinum trim and subtle leaf design.
Nevertheless there it is. A parable from daily living to mirror the unseen truths we may as well face. God's standard is Perfection. "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11).
I end with another Disney movie character. I have known in my lifetime a few "practically perfect" people like Mary Poppins. They were uninterested in the subject of God, yet they had no mars or cracks in them that I could discern. After becoming a Christian, I agonized over the idea that such gold-plated goodness cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, while the likes of me will someday enjoy the presence of the Lord. But even the world of bone china and Buicks testifies that the smallest thing can render our finest work as filthy rags. Redemption must be found elsewhere.
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