On Sunday, October 18, Aaron Rodgers earned a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He is the only Packers quarterback who has ever finished a game with a perfect mark. The coach handed him the game ball when it was over, and his teammates swarmed him.
I have some issues with this. I thought perfect meant you didn’t make any mistakes. But nope, not in football. Sure, Rodgers played a great game. He threw for 429 yards, passed for five touchdowns, and had a rushing touchdown. But he wasn’t a perfect passer. Six of his passes were incompletions.
I know math isn’t my strong point, but I still don’t understand why someone gets credit for a perfect passer rating if he completes only 77.5 percent of his passes.
Honestly though, I realized we do these passer-rating math shenanigans with our spiritual lives too.
When Jesus talks about getting into heaven, he tells us there’s a standard we need to meet: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Perfect means we keep everyone of God’s commandments every moment of every day—worship the Lord only, honor the Sabbath Day and your parents, love your neighbor, and don’t murder or steal or commit adultery or give false testimony or covet things that belong to other people.
Deep down we know we don’t meet that standard. For goodness’ sake, we’d be lucky to meet it 77.5 percent of the time. So we change the definition of perfect to sound more like: “I’m a pretty good person” or “I volunteer at a shelter” or “I donate to the Red Cross.” (To be fair, these are good things, but they don’t make you perfect, in the same way that a total of five touchdowns still doesn’t make Rodgers’ game perfect.)
Perfect means perfect—not kind-of good or pretty good or mostly good—and we are not perfect.
But there’s hope.
Just like there’s only one Packer with the perfect passer rating, there is one person who has been completely and totally perfect: God’s Son, Jesus.
Still, there’s one pretty big difference between those two. Aaron Rodgers isn’t about to say, “Hey, why don’t you put all of Brett Favre’s interceptions in my record book and give him credit for my perfect passer rating.” No way, Aaron wants credit for what he did.
But Jesus does that. He took the punishment for our imperfect performances (our sins) and then gives us credit for living his whole life perfectly. Thanks to him, in the Father’s heavenly stat book, Jesus’ perfect stats are on your record.
Because of that, when your life is over, your heavenly Father is going to give you the game ball and say, “Well done, good and faithful—and perfect—servant. Come and share your master’s happiness.”
And all the angels and believers in heaven are going to swarm you.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who really can’t fathom the math that goes into football stats—no matter how much her son tries to explain it to her.