Summary: Is there such a thing?
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News,
Michelangelo was once putting what appeared to be the finishing touches on a
sculpture when a friend dropped by for a visit.
Days later, the friend dropped by again and was surprised to find the artist still
working on the same statue.
"You haven’t been working on this statue all this time, have you?", asked the
"I have," said Michelangelo.
"I’ve been busy retouching this part and polishing that part; I’ve softened this
feature and brought out that muscle; I’ve given more expression to the lips and more
energy to that arm."
"But all those things are so insignificant," said the friend. "They’re mere trifles."
"That may be so," replied Michelangelo, "but trifles make perfection, and
perfection is no trifle."
Certainly, perfection is no trifle.
Or to put it in words that we use more frequently today---perfection is certainly not
something which holds little value or importance.
But no matter how hard and long Michelagelo worked on his sculptures---we can
be pretty sure that none of them were ever absolutely perfect!
Perfect, not likely...not in this imperfect fallen world.
But that being said, there can be no doubt about the importance of the doctrine of
perfection in the history of Methodism.
The idea of Christian perfection was enormously important for the founder of
Methodism, John Wesley spent his entire Christian life seeking an adequate definition
and understanding about it.
In verse 12 of our Epistle lesson, the Apostle Paul declares: "Not that I have
already obtained, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
Paul followed after perfection--this was his God-given purpose.
When Christ saved Paul, that was just the beginning--not the end.
He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ, and as long as he was on
this earth he was going to live for Christ and do all he could to serve Christ.
And this is what we are all called to do!
The word "press" means to follow after, to pursue just like a runner in a race.
There is no place for walking, sitting around or lying around in our faith journey...
...and there is certainly no place for complacency.
Christ had saved Paul for perfection, Christ saved John Wesley for perfection, and
Christ has saved you and me for perfection!
Notice verse 10: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the
fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow,
to attain the resurrection from the dead."
Paul sought an eternal experience with Christ: he sought to be resurrected from
So, we might ask ourselves: "what is so significant about the resurrection from the
What is so different about that day?
At death, all of those who have been saved go to be with the Lord...
...quicker than the eye can blink...
...when our time comes...
...we shall stand face to face with Christ!
So, what is the difference between meeting Christ at death and at then meeting
Christ at the resurrection?
Well, it involves perfection....Christian perfection.
When dealing with Christian perfection, John Wesley went to great lengths to
define what Christian Perfection is not.
Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is not what Wesley called "angelism."
According to Wesley, the Son of God does not destroy the whole work of the
devil in human beings...as long as we stay in this life.
Jesus does not destroy bodily weakness, sickness, pain, and a thousand infirmities
that go along with flesh and blood....
....Jesus Christ does not destroy all the weakness of understanding...
...which is a natural consequence of our souls living in a corruptible body.
Quoting Wesley: "Both ignorance and error belong to humanity."
Christians are forgiven, but we are far from perfect!
I make countless mistakes every day...therefore I am not perfect!
Many of us have been suffering from colds for the past few weeks, many of us
suffer from much more serious illnesses...and we all grow older and achy-er everyday,
every year...so obviously our bodies are not perfect.
Therefore, none of us can be absolutely perfect...like an angel....
....none of us can be absolutely infallible....
....none of us are above being tempted....
....all of us have moments when our hearts are not completely pure.
According to Wesley, every one of us will make mistakes as long as we live...
...and every mistake is a transgression of the perfect law.
Therefore, every mistake...if it were not for the atoning blood of Christ, would
expose us to eternal damnation.
This means that every Christian...all of us...no matter how far along we are on the