WOW, what a thought. Be perfect. A while back, my Sunday School class studied the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus preached and Matthew recorded in chapter 5 of his book. For sure Jesus laid down some pretty hard directions for us to follow. He took outward actions and placed them in our hearts. For instance it’s not enough just to follow the do not murder rule, Jesus said to not even entertain anger. Don’t commit adultery became don’t even look and lust about it. He was changing the way we understood what God wanted us to do and how he wanted us to act. His point was to go beyond outward obedience and change our hearts inside. When you think about it, all actions are a reflection of the condition of our hearts.
But then Jesus ended the sermon with these words. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I thought about that for a while. There was no way I could be perfect. But Jesus said for me to be just that. I believe that my heavenly Father is perfect in every way you can list. He has never made a mistake, never been wrong, never falsely accused anyone of anything, never missed an opportunity to help someone, never failed to love anyone. He is perfect. And I am not.
But here’s what Jesus wants us to know. Remember that he said early in the sermon that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we would never enter the kingdom of heaven. The scribes and Pharisees had the actions down pat. But they only applied them to outward expressions. He was telling us that we need to train our hearts and minds to be better than our actions. And in doing so, our actions could move up to the next level and would become closer to what God wanted for us. He wanted us to understand that our hearts (mind) controls our actions. He wanted us to be intentional in our actions. Not reacting to what happens around us but reacting in a manner that would show God’s power and love to those around us. He wants us to be salt and light so that we can make a difference in this world.
I can’t explain God’s love for us. But I do know one thing for sure. God’s love towards me and you is intentional. He chose to love us. As much as I wish that I could point to something good inside of me and say “That’s why God loves ME!” I can’t. I was un-loveable. Sinful. Selfish. Yet, God CHOSE to love me. And you.
And He wants us to be perfect. This isn’t possible for us in this world the way most would think of perfect.
But what if perfect meant to be mature and intentional in making our thoughts Godly?
Most of the time, without even thinking about it, we reflect our earthly parents. My granddaughter is her mother made over. She has her actions, her expressions, her attitude. She also has some of her father’s actions, expressions and attitudes. Some people claim they can see me when my granddaughter looks a certain way or does something in a particular way. And she’s only 5 years old so I am sure that she isn’t aware of all this. But she reflects her parents.
Jesus wanted us to learn to reflect our heavenly Father in the same way. When we are intentional in following Jesus’s teaching in the way we treat others, and we love as God commanded us to, I believe that we are approaching what Jesus meant when He said to be perfect. We reflect the love of our heavenly Father. We reflect the grace given to us. We let the world see Jesus through our actions and our intentions. This should be a Christian’s goal: To accurately reflect the grace and love of our heavenly Father. Strive to be perfect in doing that and I believe we will be doing what Jesus said to do.