Saturday, June 03, 2006

Be You Therefore Perfect

Jesus said “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

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A few years ago at a Sunday computer show, I saw a handsomely dressed black man walking around in shirt and tie, followed by a gaggle of four similarly dressed young black men. It was just after lunchtime. I figured the leader was a local preacher and the others his deacons, and they were on a buying mission for the church. I put my hand out in a gesture to get the leader’s attention.

“Hello, Pastor, have you been preaching the gospel this morning?” I asked with a smile.

“Oh, I’ve been spreading the Word,” he answered as he stopped to face me A golden tooth gleamed through his proud and expansive smile. His troops assembled behind him to watch him in action.

“What exactly is that gospel?” I inquired sincerely and expectantly, hoping for a good answer, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

“All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” he exclaimed. “Accept the Lord Jesus as your personal savior and your sins will be washed away. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Have you invited Jesus into your heart?”

“That I have, Pastor, and I’m glad for it,” I replied. “Tell me, Pastor, is it possible for a person to be perfect?”

“Oh, no,” he lectured. “Only one man has ever been perfect, and that’s Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

“Well, is it possible for a person to live according to Jesus’ teachings?” I wanted to know.

“Sure it is,” he instructed.

“Are you committing any sins or errors right this minute?” I asked?

“Well, er-uh, not right this minute, no,” he said. The glimmer of gold began to fade with his smile.

“How about for the past few minutes?” I inquired. The deacons angled themselves for a better look at the preacher’s face. He paused to gather his thoughts.

“No, I don’t believe so,” he replied.

“Me, too,” I responded, as I eagerly held out my hand. He automatically grasped it and began a friendly handshake.

“According to Jesus,” I continued with a huge grin, wishing I could gleam some gold back at him, “we can be perfect here on earth, relative to our individual capacities, just as our Father in Heaven is absolutely perfect. It’s great that we two brothers can share these moments of mutual perfection on this fine Sunday afternoon, isn’t it?”

The pastor just stood there grasping my hand, his grip weakening as his mental machinery pondered my conundrum, his facial expression frozen in puzzlement.

“Have a good afternoon, Pastor,” I said, as I released my hand. “And keep spreading that Word.”

I turned and walked away with a smile on my face and in my heart, hoping I’d just given the pastor some meat for his next sermon.

Then I spun on my heels and said with a wave and a smile, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor... that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven. Remember Matthew 5:45, Pastor. According to Jesus, we're Sons of God too."

The pastor and his deacons seemed frozen in time as I turned around and continued on my rounds to spread the Gospel.

John asked Jesus, "Master, what is the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus answered: "The kingdom of heaven consists in these three essentials: first, recognitionof the fact of the sovereignty of God; second, belief in the truth of sonship with God; and third, faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to do the will of God--to be like God. And this is the good news of the gospel: that by faith every mortal may have all these essentials of salvation. The Urantia Book, 140:10.9