Pardon the crude title, but it gets the point across of what follows, gang.
When Jesus issues a command in Scripture, it is because He intends you to partner with him in order to do what it takes to make you equal to the task.
When Jesus says, “be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we often bring two sets of baggage to the table in reading this verse as well as its mate in Leviticus 11:44 (be holy, for I am holy).
First, it seems that many times we think these commandments are impossible to follow, and thus the implication is that we don’t even bother trying for a life of excellence (perfection and holiness) and settle for a lifestyle of compromise and allow sin more of a place than it really should occupy. We let an identity that is not ours take up refuge as a squatter on our spiritual land, and leave whatever garbage behind that it wants. And from day to day, we trouble ourselves with kind of picking up some of the trash left behind, hoping that G-d will somehow be able to tolerate us.
Second, we have this idea of what perfection looks like and we are under the impression that perfection exists in a particular direction in accordance with our own vision of perfection and holiness.
To the first point, these commandments are not impossible to follow. A governing principle of Scripture is that with a command to some goal comes the resources necessary to reach that goal. If G-d is going to command something of us, then for Him not to provide us with the tools, raw materials, or resources leading to that goal, is a really grotesque form of cruelty. Anywhere else in Scripture that we know of where the Creator of the Universe is portrayed as being uniquely vicious without reason or wantonly destructive without reason or purpose? We don’t serve a cruel G-d who is given to torturing us.
To the second point, I would contend that we hold on to our vision of perfection and holiness because we have no idea what perfection or holiness mean to Jesus.
Jesus is going to resource us with the tools and materials necessary to move us into perfection and holiness IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE WAY HE SEES AND VIEWS PERFECTION AND HOLINESS. He is not going to resource us with the tools and materials necessary to move us into a place of perfection in accordance with our finite, limited, soulish, stupid, unreachable views of what we think these two items look like looks like.
Jesus does not have your idea of P and H in mind.
He is not going to command you to be perfect and holy and then not equip you with the capacity, tools, raw materials, or resources necessary to walk in these attributes. For him to do so is for him to lead us into the path of futility, which is not part of His nature (Psalm 16:11).
Nor is He going to command you to be perfect and then expect you to achieve what you think perfection is, in your own strength.
Your eye has not seen, nor your ear heard the things and places He has prepared for you, simply because you love Him.
His path for you leads to a place of holiness, and a place of perfection, but in order for you to move there, you have to leave behind:
- what your soulish and natural mind thinks they look like,
- your solution for getting there,
- your ideas that these goals are exercises in futility, and
- your resolve to continue along a mediocre, sometimes-sinning lifestyle as a path of compromise
And you have to embrace
- His idea of what they look like,
- His tools and his seasons for you in the present reality, and
- 2 Corinthains 5:17
- That you have been transferred from Romans 7 to Romans 8. He has delivered you from the wretched body of death into life. From darkness to light (1 John 1). You can go ahead and thank him for making you a new creation, and you were (past tense) buried with him in baptism (Romans 6:4). You fight from a place of victory rather than struggling upward against sin. You were living in darkness, and now you are seated above every principality and authority (Ephesians 1:21), with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
- You have the choice and the opportunity to, instead of being so sin-focused, sin-conscious, and making sin your reference point, being Christ-focused, aware of your calling and destiny, and getting into the car and driving off into all G-d has for you.
On one hand, if all we live with is an awareness of sin everywhere we go, then everywhere we go we will see opportunities to sin.
On the other hand, if all we live with is an awareness of our G-d, our calling, our purpose, and our destiny, then everywhere we go and in everything we do, we will see our calling and purpose and ways and opportunities to fulfill the destiny G-d designed for us, and as a side benefit, holiness, and consecration will come.
You have the keys in your hand, follower of Jesus. Put them into the ignition, and drive.