Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect…

There are certain words – phrases too – that are capable of drowning out all else.

In the gospel this morning I have encountered one of those phrases.

Jesus, you see, is offering up some of his best stuff here – really helpful direction for a pattern of life that will lead us toward that promised kingdom –

the one that he says is so close to us; coming very near and all that –

this is advice we might even be willing to try, though it sounds difficult –

love your enemy – pray for those who persecute you.

The bit about turning the other cheek and going the extra mile

even have a revolutionary feel to them…

So after stressing about the law, and being told we need to be salt and light

finally we are getting some concrete advice – and then, for me, that dreadful phrase;

“be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect”

in an instant, all that good advice fades to background noise

and my only thought is how this has become impossible.

Perfection is not for me – not for us – haven’t we proven that?

Father in heaven – perfect – that we can allow,

but can we aspire to perfection? Should we?

I wallowed in the notion of impossible perfection for a good long while this week.

I wondered about the expectations that come with a life of faith,

and how we never seem able to live up to them.

I considered the distance between what we desire as the people of God

and what we achieve – and I suspected that this innocent phrase

has had something to do with our continual frustration – our high expectations –

and our inability to see the beautiful truth.

What truth, you ask?

Well, lets back up for a moment.

Remember, Jesus is still trying to draw us into the beauty and simplicity of the law;

a law that comes from the compassionate, merciful, loving heart of God.

No murder – no anger – no coveting – no wrangling – those were last week’s lessons.

But know we are called to put that behaviour to the test

in a way that will challenge our ideas of how the world should work.

Friends and neighbours are one thing – it’s easy to like those who are like us – but Jesus says that the law asks more of us than that

GOD asks more of us than that.

This treatment is for enemies – for those who do us violence – for those who…wait for it…

don’t share our values – our faith – our understanding of the universe.

This was earthshaking then – and,

although we claim to be enlightened, compassionate, fair thinking people, it is still a radical suggestion.

Our prejudice runs deep. Old wounds leave heavy scars

we are not naturally able to act in a way that is just and fair

when we have not been treated fairly, or have had justice denied us.

Jesus knows this as a natural fact.

God knows it as One who created us capable of exerting our own will.

And yet, we are urged to divine perfection…it might pay to ask here,

how is our father in heaven perfect

with regard to justice and mercy and exercise of will?

Well, as it happens, God is perfectly neutral – treating friend and enemy alike

causing the rain to fall on the just and the unjust,

accepting praise and prayer – providing comfort and strength –

regardless of colour, creed, language race, gender, sexuality,

denomination, age, ability, hair colour…well, you get the idea.

Jesus came to fulfil the law – Matthew has already reminded us of that

but fulfill doesn’t mean narrow the field.

And I don’t for a moment believe “perfect” means (identical to me in every way)

We are here called by Jesus to remember that God’s call to us is to unity in God through Christ.

That our differences – the ones we build up and fight over – the things that drive us to sin and to the edge of destruction – in God’s eyes (and in God’s kingdom) those differences do not exist.

God’s perfection can be ours, if we can learn to erase those distinctions

to see past differences and celebrate our connection in God’s creative act.

Be perfect, not in our keeping of the law, but in our imitation of the spirit of the law.

A spirit that calls enemies brothers – that does not dwell on past hurts and imagined distinctions.

That is the perfection we should desperately seek –

a harmony that is within our grasp,

if only we let God’s spirit of gentleness and peace lead us.

It is the perfection we seek in this sacrament –

a perfection we find at the bitter cross; at the empty tomb.

So come, let us lay our differences aside and seek the perfect peace of God that is God’s free gift to us at this table.



Tags: , ,

One Response to “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect…”

  1. revjeff Says:

    Reblogged this on Reflections from here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: