On Wednesday, we gathered together with Bixby Knolls Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Reverend Danny Bradfield shared from his heartfelt ponderings about the insanity of striving for perfection. He was led there as the showiness of the Pharisees praying for all to see conflicted with what Jesus wants from us.
But then, he got troubled by the fact that the scripture immediately before the one he read says,
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 48)
Oh, how I love it when we pastors get tripped up by scripture! It makes us dig deeper, look to the Hebrew or Greek word, to understand more.
That is exactly what Danny did. The word translated “perfect” is “teleos” for which a better translation is “complete.”
The phrase is the last of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There is a whole lot to becoming a “complete” follower of Jesus. It has nothing to do with show. But it also has nothing to do with being perfect for, as we know, Jesus’ disciples never would meet that standard.
Still, we are called to reflect on turning the other cheek, on finding a way forward with one with whom you are aggrieved rather than going to court, on what it means to stay true to the one you choose to share life with, and so on.
One of my favorite concepts in math is the limit curve. You can get closer and closer to the curve, but never quite meet it. I think faith is like that. We can get closer to Jesus but we will never be Jesus.
Since you will never be perfect be careful to not show off because there is always room to grow.
Instead, seek to make Jesus your end allowing the teachings, the miracles, the life of Jesus, and, yes his death and resurrection, to complete and shape you.
In God’s Love,