Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Being Perfect In Christ

Matthew 5:48

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

IMG_0435-0Be perfect! I have a friend who has bowled several 300 games in ten pins. That would be 12 strikes in a row. That is perfect – for one game.

Be perfect! I was playing in a golf tournament with a late friend and he hit a ball on a par three that took two hops and went right into the hole. That was an ace – a hole-in-one – perfect for one hole.

Be perfect! I know a number of musicians – from when I was in band through the young people at our church – who received perfect scores at various events. They were perfect for that one performance – hitting every note and doing so with style!

Be perfect! People spend a lot of time trying to be perfect in something. Maybe you have spent hours trying to get your hair just right or to put together the perfect outfit combination. Have any of my colleagues spent hours on a sermon – trying to find the perfect illustration. I wonder how many of us have tried to be perfect at something in our lives?

On Monday I will try to hit at least a few perfect golf shots as I play in a tournament. No one will ever shoot an 18 – but even those of us who are rank amateurs at the game – even hackers at times – hit one or two shots that make us come back for more. Maybe it will be a long winding putt that will find the bottom of the cup or it will be a 3-wood from 220 that not only finds the green – but snuggles up to the cup.

Today’s passage comes from a portion of the Gospel according to Matthew that is commonly called the Sermon one the Mount. Here it is in partial context. Matthew 5:43–48 – 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

On yesterday – the day after another attack by radical Islamic terrorists – this time in Orlando – the deadliest attack in our collective memory – we are called to love our enemies. It seems like such a horrific thing to ask – to love those who do such evil – to love those who do the work of Satan. Yet on yesterday we were reminded of these words from Stephan as he was being stoned by the religious leaders of his day – Acts 7:59–60 – 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. We were also reminded of Jesus’ words on the cross – Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Let me repeat portions of the context of today’s passage in light of the radical Islamic terrorist attack on Sunday morning. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Being perfect is not something that we can do on our own – even if we do it once-in-a-while. But Jesus calls us to be perfect in a way that comes only from our walk with Him. Some say Jesus is calling us to a perfect love – a perfect reflection of Christ Himself. In today’s climate – as with the climate of humanity for all time – this is not easy – but we can offer our imperfections up to God to perfect us in Christ! Today – in Christ – I can say I love even those who hate me or are out to harm me. But only in Christ can I say this – because the human part of me – my desires – will not allow me to love those who hate me. I am at awe reading about Stephan and Christ as they forgave those who killed them. I want to love like that – to be perfect in Christ.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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June 13, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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