Journal Entry // May 18, 2023
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (ESV)Matthew 5:48
Jesus ends this section of the sermon where he is teaching us a proper understanding of what it means for Him to be the fulfillment of the Law by telling us we must therefore be perfect. We must be perfect just like our heavenly Father is perfect. For this is the aim of pursuing Christ with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We are to live a life in conformity to Scripture and Scripture is the outworking of God’s character of God. So as we are pursuing to be faithful to all the Bible teaches and commands, then we are in fact seeking a life of perfection that reflects the very heart and nature of the Father. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the perfection and holiness of our great and wonderful God is revealed. This is what Jesus is calling us to pursue… a life of faithful obedience that pursues and reflects the very heart of God.
It is easy to read this verse and make the conclusion that Jesus is calling me to a life of necessary perfection. A perfection that is a requirement of salvation. This is not what he is saying. My salvation is complete and paid for and I have nothing to add in that regard. This pursuit of perfection is about loving God completely with all of my being. Jesus tells us that the summation of the law and the prophets is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and this is the same call Jesus puts before me now. A call to be perfect is a call to be fully committed and engaged with the Lord.
This means I will often fail in my pursuit to love Christ completely, but I have a Savior who I can come to in humility and repentance to receive forgiveness and grace. I will fail in this pursuit. It is important for me to remember this. It is also important to remember that the call to perfection means that through the strength of the Spirit there can be an attainment of perfection at some level. I am to be like Jesus and in so being I will be seeking perfection. It seems so unattainable, but maybe that is the point.
The point of Jesus telling me to be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect doesn’t mean that I gird up myself and perform. I believe it is meant for me to humble myself before my perfect heavenly Father and confess that I am unable to be perfect as he is perfect. I am to first come before the Lord with a proper understanding of where I am in this pursuit. That understanding knows that I fall terribly short of the mark. This is step one in the pursuit because it keeps me humble and continues to show me the need I have for the grace and mercy of Jesus in my life. I need him each and every day because I fall so incredibly short of the mark. My heart is deceived, my soul is deflated, my mind wanders, and my strength fails but the perfection of my loving Father still stands strong in my life.
How can I be perfect just like my heavenly Father? I simply realize that I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ and his righteousness is perfection. Through the righteousness of Christ, I can live a life in pursuit of perfection. I can live a life of faithful obedience as I humbly love Jesus in every aspect of life. As I seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. When the object of my desires is not anything other than loving Jesus completely, then I will be walking in the current of his righteousness and perfection. My decisions and choices will be grounded in the heart of Jesus as my weakness and frailty is enfolded into the strength and purity of Jesus alone.
This is my motivation for pursuing perfection, which is simply saying my motivation to pursue Christ alone in all things. I desire to live a humble life of understanding my weakness and learning to rest in the strength of Christ. This rest is not inactivity, but a life of continually drawing from the perfection of Jesus and doing away with my own bent to prove myself. A life where I fade away and Jesus is glorified. A life where the only thing that truly matters is that people encounter Jesus. A life where I am a child of God learning to be just like my heavenly Father who loves me completely, faults and all.