Pure perfection: Living in response to God’s love

Published 10:44 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

Can I confess something … I mean, just between the two of us (don’t tell anybody else, OK?):  I am not perfect. You aren’t wearing a wire or secretly recording this are you? Don’t write it down, because I would hate for it ever to show up in print.

The idea of perfection is intimidating, especially when I look back over my checkered past. I went through puberty and had acne, have a few traffic tickets to my name, have disappointed important people in my life and haven’t always responded to people and situations as I should. Thinking about “being perfect” is uncomfortable, because I realize very clearly I have a long way to go.

Jesus spoke about this one time to crowds gathered on hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 5:38-48).  He told them that they had to be one thing … perfect. Not perfected by God, but be perfect JUST LIKE God (verse 48). It echoes the ancient text that describes us as created in God’s image. Like a mirror, that gives me the unvarnished look at myself, I am meant to reflect in my life exactly what I see revealed in God.   

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Let me be clear, we don’t earn God’s love or respect. This is not about proving ourselves to God. It is, however, about living in response to God a life that honors what God has done for us. 

I confess, my living doesn’t look exactly like God. However, my response cannot be to shrug and say, “Well, that’s the way it goes. I’m only human. Nobody’s perfect.”  We have all fallen short at some point, that’s true. But there is one who is perfect (Jesus, the Christ), and he restores us to the right path, to lead us in it, and commands (not merely invites) us with the words, “Follow me.” Jesus doesn’t just save us from our sins and brokenness. He saves us for a purpose:  to be holy and sacred instruments of God’s love, even to those who offend, oppose, or even persecute us. After all, God pours rain and sunshine on both those who follow and those who disregard. 

We are called to press on, to grow and mature, to be made perfect reflections of God. We are to love each person and apply the lessons we have learned along the way. They are dearly purchased, after all.

REV. MICHAEL KENDALL is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email mkendall@farmvilleumc.org.