The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/28

Posted on | June 28, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 6/28

Scripture reading: I Corinthians

Just Perfect

You therefore must be perfect, as your

heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

 

Not long ago I was looking for a needed screw to help me install a brace for a window air conditioning unit. I have an old coffee can that I keep in the garage, filled with hundreds of miscellaneous screws, bolts and nuts that I have collected through the years. I emptied the can on my work table and began sorting and sifting through the mountain of metal hardware. How long will this take? I wondered. Finally, I found what I was looking for and heard myself say excitedly, “This screw is perfect!”

Think about my choice of words. What made that screw “perfect”? Was the screw of higher quality than the others? Were there no chips or flaws on this screw? No.  It was “perfect” because it was exactly adapted to fulfilling the function I desired it to perform. The Bible uses the word “perfect” (Greek, telos) in a similar manner.  It describes the state of having reached the appropriate or desired purpose. Something (or someone) is “perfect” when it accomplishes the end or goal for which it was created. The word does not necessarily imply that something or someone has no flaws or defects. It simply underscores the fact that the purpose for which it exists is fully realized.

In the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus was describing the role of love in the life of his disciples, he said: “Be perfect.” The context makes clear that the perfection he had in mind was a perfection of love, not of performance (Matthew 5:43–48).  Just as our Father in heaven loves all people perfectly, causing his sun to rise on the evil and the good, sending rain on the just and the unjust, so we are to live a life of perfect love.

We make a tragic mistake when we think the Gospel calls us to a life of perfect performance rather than perfect love. God performs perfectly. And before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve did too. And when we enter the New Jerusalem, where all sin and wickedness will be excluded, we will be able to perform perfectly, without any encumbrance of moral flaws of bodily infirmity. But we are no longer in Eden and not yet in heaven. Today, the Gospel calls us to a perfection of love.  When we love perfectly it will certainly impact on our behavior! But in this world we will never experience total freedom from the flaws and frailties of a body damaged by sin.

I don’t know about you, but when I realize that what God wants most from me is not perfect performance but perfect love, I have two equal and opposite reactions:

_ On the one hand I breathe a grateful sigh of relief. Whew! So it’s not about my behavior after all. What a comfort to know that my relationship with God does not ultimately hinge on the quality of my outward actions.

_ On the other hand, I feel the sheer terror of realizing that God will judge my heart, my motives, my loves. Where my heart is divided and my love for him is less than total, I have failed to comply with God’s will for my life. Love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

Does the devotional today fill you with comfort or with holy fear; or perhaps both at the same time? Be sure of this: God never demands anything of us that he is not ready to enable us to fulfill!

 

Christian perfection is nothing higher and nothing lower than this—the pure love of God

and man; the loving of God with all our heart and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. It

is love governing the heart and life, running through all our tempers, words, and actions.

—John Wesley

 

point to ponder God looks on your heart more than he looks on your performance.

prayer focus For your life to be characterized by love.

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