Summary: Our purpose is to grow and become more like Christ
Title: The Perfect Sermon
FCF: God is perfect, and would have us be too.
SO: I want the congregation to link communion, with the completeness goodness of God and the realities of this present age.
The basis of this sermon is a word study of the word ‘teleios” – perfect. Hence, I am in no way suggesting the sermon is perfect, but rather is about perfection
How would you like to perfect?
I know that seems like a pretty tall order, but let’s face it. Why do you come to church? Why do read the Bible? Isn’t it because, at some level, you want to be … perfect?
For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about growth. We know we need to grow, we’ve even heard about how the gardener makes us to grow. (Ref to sermon on Luke 13:6-9). But what is growth, other than a movement towards perfection?
Now, this morning I want to do something a bit different with the sermon. You know that normally, I’d like a single passage of scripture, read it, outline it, and then pull out action statements from it. As a regular diet that you would be following in your daily bible study, I still that’s the best approach – seeing it in context and pulling from it. I like to call that the “telescope approach.” But, like I said, this morning, I want to take a different tack. I want to pull out my “microscope,” and examine just a single word.
That word, is “perfect.”
Now, in our responsive reading, you used this word a lot. You saw “mature,” “fulfilled,” “complete.” In the original Greek, these are the same word, “Teleios.”
If you’re driving up Rt. 7 some time, near 28, you’ll see a building for a company called “Telos.” They make aircraft, but somebody who started that company must have known Greek, because that’s the base for our word. Telos is a goal. It’s your “end,” in the sense that the end of a turkey is to be my Thanksgiving meal. It’s what it wants to be.
You can see how these words would be related.
This morning, since we’re going to be thinking about being perfected, that means we’ll be spending a lot of time in James. James uses the word more than anybody else.
Specifically, I want to look at three aspects of perfect – and you’ll get a sense of it by understanding three different words that are sometimes used in its place. You can think of perfect as:
3. A Fulfillment
Perfect is a Process
When you think of perfection as maturity, you realize first of all that perfection is a process.
If you have your bible, would you turn with me to James 1:2-5?
" My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you." (James 1:2-5, NRSV)
By definition, a goal – a perfect goal – is something that we aren’t at now. If we already were perfect, we wouldn’t need God. But we’re not. So, how does God perfect us? Simple. He brings us situations that grow us.
If you’ve ever spent time with a child, you know that it is usually much, much easier to simply clean up after them then it is to get them to do it themselves. But still, you know there are times when you have to stand over them and make them pick up each toy, one by one. It breaks your heart, and if the kid is anything like Rachel, it breaks hers too!
So, why do you do it? Because – at some point, they have to learn how to be an adult. And that only happens when you’re given a task.
You know, we often ask why God is “doing this to me.” Why don’t I have X? Why is my body suffering from Y?
Maturity is always painful. It always means letting go of something cherished. In the case of the rich young ruler, it meant his possessions. In the case of the child picking up, it meant his freedom to leave things where he pleased. But maturity – growing up – is what leads us to perfect.
In the Christmas song, “Away in a Manager,” we pray that God will “fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.” If that really is our prayer, then we have to learn at some point that this world isn’t heaven. James 4:7 makes explicit – This world and heaven are exactly at odds with one another.