Summary: Exploring the principles that make us more Christlike.
What Does It Mean To Be Perfect?
(There was a young boy who had been writing God a note on how good he had been throughout the past year. He began by writing, “Dear God, I have been good for six months now and I think I deserve a good gift for Christmas.” Upon thinking about it he then scribbled out six months and replaced it with three months. Looking at the paper in frustration, after thinking about it some more, he scribbled out three months and changed it to two weeks. Upon further thought, he scribbled out two weeks. Staring blankly at the paper, he got an idea. He jumped up from where he had been writing the message and went to the family’s Nativity scene and grabbed the Virgin Mary. After sitting back down to write the message, its contents had now changed entirely. He wrote, “Dear God, if you ever want to see your mother again you’ll give me what I want.”)
Sometimes we can become a little like the young child in the illustration when it comes to our relationship with God. We can get a little selfish in our prayers and absorbed in our own little world. We sometimes say to God, “If you do this I’ll pray more…give more…stop my bad habits.” We barter with God as if by doing something in exchange we can earn a special treat from Him. God gifts are not earned; otherwise they would cease to be gifts. Yet we seem to think God operates on the same level we do. The scripture states that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
We do not need to, nor should we ever, barter for things with God. He knows what we need and he supplies them “according to His riches in glory.” The key point, though, that God demands from us as His children is that we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and THEN all these things shall be added to us.” Matthew 6:33 We need to first get our eyes off of seeking our kingdom and humble ourselves to understand what His kingdom needs and requires from us. St. Benedict of Nursia stated, “We descend by self-exaltation and ascend by humility.”
The first thing His kingdom requires from us is perfection in our attitudes towards God and our fellow man. This is a hard saying but I want to build upon the foundation of perfection in the sermon and then progress deeper into this truth. I want to say first and foremost, WE WILL NEVER ACHIEVE PERFECTION IN THIS BODY. That being said, how do you become perfect if you can never become perfect? Ultimately it boils down to the choices we make in our lives. We choose to be holy, we choose to be perfect, and when we fail, we must repent and change our lives and let God’s grace restore us to that place of perfection in Christ.
The Venerable Bede once said, “No one is suddenly made perfect.” This is a truth that is seldom explored in some churches. In some churches the current thought is that once you accept Christ, you immediately get rid of old habits, poor choices and bad lifestyles, and those who don’t meet the standards of the lifelong church-goer are shunned and kept outside the “saved” churchmen. These standards can be anything from clothing to appearance to “churchy” words.