Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The seemingly impossible call to "be ye therefore perfect"
The call to be perfect found in Matthew 5:48 has come to a boiling point for many. Thoughts of perfection and our lack of ability to do so has caused so much despair and hopelessness. It is overwhelming. We live in a society that puts such stress and pressure on us to be perfect. Just look around you, it comes at us from all directions. The idea of being perfect in everything has overwhelmed our homes, our schools, our churches, it is everywhere. The quest to be perfect in every possible aspect has nearly overtaken us. Combine the TV, magazines, and movies ideal of perfect with social media like Facebook, twitter, and Pinterst it has all come together in a "perfect storm." (no pun intended.) I recently wrote about The comparison trap that comes with social media. It seems so easy to overly compare ourselves, and pour fuel on this fire.
We are all feeling the effects. Parents are so overwhelmed by keeping up with the other parents and making sure that their children have the opportunity to be the most perfect of all the children. Our young people are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the pressure on them to be that perfect child. Those in the teenage years are having trouble finding their way through this raging storm (as if teenage years weren't hard enough), I feel bad for them. Families are being ripped apart by this storm.
The trouble is an attitude is growing in ourselves and our children. We have been overburdened with the thoughts of perfection to a breaking point. Mention the words perfection or perfect, and it is like a swear word. You mention being perfect and some people want to throw you under a bus. People have become crazy in their pursuit of the unobtainable worldly perfection. A side effect of this crazy ride is that it is causing a shift in peoples perception.
Here are a few thoughts and quotes that I have seen floating about social media lately (This is just a sampling of things that I have seen and the attitude that is beginning to prevail)
1."Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it"
2. "They say no one is perfect, then they say that practice makes perfect, I wish they would make up their minds"
3. "nobody is perfect, I am nobody so therefore I am perfect."
4."perfection is not what the heart is aiming for"
5. "shooting for perfection is like shooting in the dark".
These quotes and thoughts of "I can't be perfect" have lead to an attitude of "I am fine the way I am, I will find solace in being imperfect "
6. "Imperfect is the next perfect"
7. "I am perfectly imperfect"
8. "Imperfection is really two words I'm perfection"
Take a moment and think about the above quotes. How do they make you feel? Do you see yourself in them? Do you find your attitude shifting? Satan is very sneaky. He has infiltrated to the very core. Do you see how he is keeping us from the Goal of being like Jesus? The problem is that these attitudes and perceptions of perfect can overtake and distract us to the point that it keeps us from even being willing to try to become like our Savior Jesus Christ because perfect is just too overwhelming.
It has been said that The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.
If we are striving for worldly perfection that is very true. We often find ourselves so wrapped up in the pursuit of worldly perfection, and showing our perfection for the world to see. We can find that we have been blinded as to perfection in the Saviors eyes. Perfection according to the world, and the Saviors perfection are different; yet somehow we let them become one and the same. Let me explain further.
An understanding and enlightenment comes when we begin to define the word perfect. To often we use the word perfect as an adjective; entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. The Lord is using the word perfect as a verb which has an entirely different meaning; to bring to completion; finish. to make fully skilled, to bring nearer to perfection.
Perfection is an ideal that helps in removing, not demeaning imperfections. Tasneem Hameed
The Scripture "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" comes from the Sermon on the mount. In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus begins this beautiful sermon. The chapter ends with the command to be perfect. In the next chapter he continues on and he gives some advice about how to do this. The first thing he says in chapter 6, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise you will have no reward of your father in heaven." He was warning about becoming preoccupied with the world and their view of perfection. Being perfect in Christ is not about putting ourselves out there for everyone to see. It is NOT about being perfect on the outside, but perfect on the inside. God sees our inside, he sees what we are becoming we need to trust his work within our souls.
Often times the world can't see the inner beauty of someone who is growing and developing in Christ. I would like to compare this process to that of a growing apple. We are all growing and just as an apple, we begin by growing from a little bud to a blossom. The blossoms are beautiful but they have not grown to be a fully developed fruit. It is a process for the blossom to change from flower to a full grown fruit. During the sermon on the mount Jesus was teaching the people this process. These people were blossoms, he was teaching them how to grow to be full grown fruit. We are also in this process, many of us are just beginning to blossom. He is changing us from a blossom to a full grown apple. This process is not appealing to the world. Take a look below at this group of photos that chronicle the journey of an apple blossom to a fully ripe fruit.
When we see ourselves changing from the blossom into the small and somewhat ugly fruits as seen in photos B, C, and D; we begin to wonder what is happening. We begin to doubt the hand of God, sometimes we believe that God is changing us into something strange and unsightly. We often lose understanding of where we are going and what is happening. We have to grow and change, we can't be a blossom forever. We are not meant to be a blossom, we are meant to be an apple. This is the process and it is an essential part of life. It is the only way for us to be like Christ and our Father in heaven.
Jesus continues on with the Sermon on the mount giving all kinds of advice and sharing with the people the skills, attributes, and virtues they should develop to be more like he and his Father. If you have not read it lately I would suggest taking the time to read it.
Christ lays out to the people the path that they are to take from here on out. He gives them many skills and tools that they can use along the way. Over the next few weeks and months I will be exploring some of the skills, character traits, and virtues that God lays out for us in the scriptures. I will be writing about them along with practical advice for those who are willing to embark on this path.
Please come back and visit often. As always I welcome your comments, thoughts and advice. We can all learn from each other.