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Are We All Called To Be Perfect?

October 20, 2016

Greetings,

Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5: 43-48

Jesus definitely holds His followers to a standard much, much, higher than the status quo.  He calls us to love even our enemies.  Jesus is Love and He is the standard.  Jesus even makes loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us a condition of being able to be rightfully called one of The Heavenly Father’s sons.

Jesus calls us to love the unlovable and the difficult.  To reach out and to love those who might disparage and oppose us.  It does not matter how we are treated by others.  It is all about us treating others as Jesus would treat them.  Loving those who love us is easy.  Extending ourselves out of love to benefit others is our highest call.  We all need to live better lives than the pagans do because of the life and love He has given us so freely equips us to abundantly do so.

Finally Jesus calls us to be “perfect”.  It sounds impossible because it really is.  The Greek word translated as “perfect” here actually means whole, complete and mature.  And those things are possible in this life, but only because Jesus grants us those attributes by abiding in Christ.  If we are truly whole then it is possible to love the unlovely because then we are able to give out of our abundance and not our lack of love or compassion.  If we are complete then we lack nothing at all and can give all to those who may have need.  If we are mature then we can look beyond both our own shortcomings and the shortcomings of those we are seeking to love and serve.

Jesus extended Himself to the point of death on a cross.  Now He is calling us to extend ourselves to others in the very same manner.  Because Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.  Luke 9: 23-24

Yes, Jesus has given us a very, very high call.  A call that can only be accomplished by abiding in Christ.  Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but in Him our potential to love and be loved is unlimited.  Today I choose to follow Him and love others regardless of my own personal comfort zone or level of difficulty.  Today I fully surrender to His great and Holy Love for all people, including the dangerous and the difficult.

Love and……

Kirk Out !

 

 

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31 Comments
  1. Amen. And my God will meet ALL your needs (including obedience to His commands) according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil.4:19). Remember He PROMISES that if we love Him, we WILL obey His commands. (Jo.14:15,also v.21)

  2. peterhorvatin3gmailcom permalink

    The interesting thing is in order to be whole, complete, and mature, in my thinking, we must know the word. Our maturity comes from knowing the word by learning the context of the books and meditating on them, examining church history and see how it relates to the truth of the word, and even learning some Greek word meanings in context.

    • Peter, I hear you. However, knowing The Word of God who is Jesus and NOT a book is key. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into ALL truth and not the bible. The bible is a great gift and tool when we surrender to the Spirit and allow HIM to illuminate it for us.

    • "BK" permalink

      I always enjoy your portion on the table here, Peter. I, too, used to think maturity and love came from understanding the scriptures, history, original languages, etc…especially the Bible. However, I will share my experience with you just for consideration that perhaps we both had it backwards.
      I was shocked one day when I read in Ephesians 3 that FIRST we are rooted and grounded IN LOVE and THEN we can come to comprehend the height, depth, breadth and length WITH ALL the saints….and it went on in verse 19 ‘that you might be filled with all the fulness of God’ i.e. mature. Then in Ephesians 4 it is clear that we grow up into a full grown son as the body shares with one another and increases itself in love. So the growing into maturity comes from intimacy with our Lord and all that each member of His body shares. As I said, this honestly was a shocking revelation for me and took some considering and searching to grasp just what the Spirit was saying to me. The Bible became more and more alive to me after that as I began to listen and grow.
      Respectfully, “BK”

      • You share the Truth in Love here BK. Sure the scriptures play an important role in our life and growth, but they should NEVER be the focal point. It is the Spirit that leads us into ALL Truth, NOT the bible.

  3. Rich Chamberlin permalink

    Short answer – yes, that is our clear calling . Sadly nearly all say no thanks, when they here” do you know THAT costs?” Soon for us, planting / growing the Divine Spirit seed of perfection will no longer be optional. Still good we make news of this option available to all – cause you never know!

    • It is worth any and all cost Rich.

      • "BK" permalink

        Amen, Christopher. It is worth any and all cost….especially since the ‘cost’ is really to our flesh and not to the person who is being set free. 🙂 Love, “BK”

      • Great point BK! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Another great topic, Chris!

    I really liked your comment of, “Yes, Jesus has given us a very, very high call. A call that can only be accomplished by abiding in Christ. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but in Him our potential to love and be loved is unlimited.”

    To go along with this, here is a quoted section from chapter 5 of Deeper Friendships (free at http://www.DeeperFriendships.com)

    What is Love?

    Before leaving this section on how we are designed, and moving on to the section about why Jesus would want these things for us, I would like to pause here and emphasize and explore a key point in all of this, and that is, “What is love?” This question is not only at the heart of this chapter, but at the heart of this entire book as well. So, let us explore this question of, “What is love?”

    Some people say that love is an action and if you do something that looks loving, therefore it must be loving. But according to the scripture, love is listed as the first fruit of God’s Holy Spirit and is also the very essence of God’s character – as it says in 1 John 4:16, “God is love.” In the hose metaphor we can see this in action as love comes from God and can flow through us back to God, to ourselves, and to others – hence watering the garden. So, the hose metaphor therefore gives us a picture of how we are designed to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves, using God’s love as the source.

    Earlier we looked at John 15 where Jesus says that we can do nothing if we, as the branches, are apart from Him, as the Vine. Is this really true? Since Jesus never lies, we know it is therefore true. (See John 14:6.) But how does it practically apply to life?

    Since Jesus has designed us, a person will still show forth hints of how he or she is designed, even if that person is apart from the Vine. For example, a parent apart from the Vine may still have extra care toward his or her child. Or apart from the Vine, a girlfriend and boyfriend may still taste of love toward each other. But, to truly have God’s love flow through us is impossible without us being hooked up well to the source of that love. When someone says to another person, “Well, you do all kinds of things for me, but I just do not feel loved,” it is most likely an indication that the person saying such a thing is not experiencing God’s love flowing through that other person toward them. And since we are all designed to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves, that person realizes deep down that something is not right when others do not have God’s love for them. When I was an atheist teenager, I wondered why the other kids did not love me more. Somehow I knew they were supposed to love me, even though I did not know anything about Jesus or my original design. I realize now that I had the blueprint of my original design deep inside of me in the very fabric of my being, and according to that blueprint, I knew it would have been right for those people to love me. Interestingly, I was less aware that it would have been right for me to love them, too – an indication that I was still not hooked up to the Vine, and therefore my selfish focus was much more upon myself than on others. This in turn made it harder for me to realize the lack of love that I had toward them.

    I think our understanding of love in this context is very important, otherwise we could be surrounded by a hundred people who have God’s love flowing through them and are at deeper levels of friendship, and yet find ourselves unable to participate. Without God’s love flowing through us, we will not be able to give or receive His love well, and we as garden hoses will not bear much in terms of beautiful fruits and vegetables. Instead, the garden dirt will be dry, hard, and cracked and we will wonder why it is that way, since deep down we know there should be so much more.

    –Scott

    • Scott, it really is about abiding in the vine that is Christ and allowing His Love to flow both to and from us to others.

    • janet permalink

      I like that quote, Scott! Thank you for sharing it here. It’s a very appropriate expansion of the thoughts on love. How we give and receive Gods love really is an indication of our connection.

      • Janet, thank you for sharing your portion with us here today. LOVE is the only barometer by which HE judges our actions and thoughts.

      • Thanks, Janet! I thought it was interesting that you said, “How we give and receive Gods love really is an indication of our connection”, since I have found quite a number of Christians that are reluctant to receive Jesus’ agape love since their focus is upon their unworthiness. But I’ve seen a shift in them when I share about “It is more blessed to give than receive” and since Jesus is perfect in character and agape love, we can actually bless Him if we are willing to receive from Him.

        The following are two paragraphs that I wrote in Deeper Friendships (free at http://www.DeeperFriendships.com) that goes along with this.

        It is amazing to me that God loves us completely all the time and always wants our very best! This is quite a contrast to a very selfish person who does not care at all about the feelings of others and is mostly concerned with whether or not they are happy – such as how I was as a teenager. But, the more loving a person is, the more their eyes focus outside of themselves, which in turn increases how much they care for others. But with God, His love is so perfect that His eyes focus completely outside of Himself! In this context, Jesus’ heart is first for our good and then secondly for what would be good for Him. If we think Jesus is first concerned for Himself, then we might easily conclude that He does not really want our best, but instead is like a parent trying to vicariously live through their child because they are first concerned with how that child reflects upon them and not first for the child’s best. But with Jesus being perfect in love, His heart’s desire is to give us the very best, no matter the cost to Himself. And the very best He can give us is to free us up toward deeper friendships with Him and each other. And if we use our free will to go along with His very best to free us up toward functioning according to our original design, then it gives Him pleasure. This is similar to the Gardener enjoying watching the garden grow. Jesus with perfect motives enjoys watching us grow spiritually and produce good fruit – and in this He is very glad for our sake!

        This is similar to a person caring for someone else and getting them a very nice birthday gift. They buy it, put it in a box, wrap it up, and wait for the other person to open the present. If the other person receives the gift and is happy with it, then it gives pleasure to the giver of the gift. If the other person rejects the gift or hates it, then it would most likely sadden the gift giver since they would be sad that the other person did not enjoy the gift.

        — Scott

      • Thanks Scott, Christ empowers us to be others oriented instead of self focused. This allows us to look after the needs of others and share HIS Holy Love with them. In a fully functioning Body of Christ we look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. However, it always starts with our ability to receive His Love and sincere friendship. If we are walking in HIS Love we are able to give love to others out of HIS abundance rather than our own lack.

  5. daryl permalink

    Without Him we can do nothing….it is good to remind ourselves of that.I was reminded how early in my recovery,how aware I was of my need. I would literally pray the serenity prayer hundreds of times a day.I knew I could not make it without Gods help. And I would experience the miracle of answered prayer.The Lord was bringing wholeness to me,daily.It seems the stronger we get,our “flesh” is so prone to start thinking “I got this”,and even though we might not fall or screw up in a big way,we lose that special joy and intimacy and sense of being ALIVE that casting all our cares on Him on a moment by moment basis brings. I suppose that is why Paul would say “when I am weak,then I am strong”,and rejoiced in his sufferings. By the way,all of your recent posts have been a real blessing.I wanted to comment more but sometimes can just not put thoughts together.

    • Thank you for sharing that affirming and confirming word daryl. Being over 37 years clean and sober I understand your testimony. Here is another good one, “Cast all your cares on the Lord and HE will sustain you.” So I embrace my need for Christ in all things and admit my weakness before Him. I NEED Jesus and HIS Body.

  6. Sue heumann permalink

    All these comments are helpful today, however I see something that I’m learning continually IN MY FACE…..it takes a village…lol…..but really, a community of Bro’s and Sis’s to encourage and pray and help us along w all the ‘one anothering’ the Bible speaks of. We weren’t built in Christ to do this alone! We need each other. .. As Christopher continually points out about his wonderful Ekklesia gatherings working with one another to see Christ body working and breathing in this world. We show one another love in ways unnumbered….and we continually have more to give.

  7. tom ball permalink

    Excellent!!!

  8. janet permalink

    I love this post, Christopher! I know His love already shines through you in your very effective prayer life! And I know He will bring you even farther (further?)toward a deeper love that casts out ALL fear. Love you Hon!

  9. Jonathan Lindvall permalink

    Good word. It seems to me the point Jesus was making is that we should not give up on a total embrace of gospel ideals, though they are unattainable in our own strength. (As you note, only Jesus can fulfill these ideals as we abide in Him.) He was warning against the temptation to rationalize our failure and lower the bar. Rather, we are to persist in looking to Him alone as our source of perfection, without shrinking from the aspiration to perfection.

    • Good thoughts Jonathan. Christ is the bar and standard by which judge all things of faith and practice. HE is the immovable Rock and HE NEVER lowers the bar for us, however when we surrender to HIM HE gives us all the boost we need to clear the bar and obtain HIS objectives in our lives and relationships.

  10. "BK" permalink

    “Finally Jesus calls us to be “perfect”. It sounds impossible because it really is. The Greek word translated as “perfect” here actually means whole, complete and mature. ” Alot of varied scriptures came to mind as I read through all this post & responses again…so excellent. I like the word perfect being better translated ‘complete’ because of the verse ‘in Him we are complete’. A huge comfort to me in my journey. I also think of a brother who had a vision once of a blossom progressing to a tiny green orange and growing to a lucious fully ripe orange. The Lord asked him, “At what point was the orange perfect?” He answered, “When it was fully mature and sweet and ready to eat.” The Lord responded, “No, it was perfect in ALL its stages. A perfect blossom, a perfect green orange, growing to a perfect ripe orange.” I believe one of the reasons this all seems to be so unattainable (and I agree, in Him is where it is) is because ‘perfection’ is a point viewed as something we work at getting to. I don’t believe it is. We have been born again by the Spirit of God; we have ALL WE NEED to be holy BY NATURE. It’s no longer by taking thought of words in a book (any book) an putting them into practice, but the growing up of the fruit of the Spirit now within us; His nature is all those things. A child doesn’t grow into an adult because he reads in a book how to do it….a child is a HUMAN BEING who will grow into an adult human being by virtue of his dna. As always, not sure if I don’t come off as just rambling along. If so, please forgive.
    Love, “BK”

    • Thanks for sharing BK. I agree that we all grow in stages along the way and in HIM each stage can be perfect and whole.

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  1. Are We All Called To Be Perfect? — notesfromthebridge « Spiritual Abuse Sanctuary

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