“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:38-48 If we look at the Scriptures, we see over and over Christ calling for perfection. Now, if I look at myself honestly (I invite you to do some inner reflection as well), I know I am not perfect. Inside of me is a man I hate, a man of flesh, lust, anger, jealousy, and many other things beside. And yet, I read the scriptures, and see that Christ calls me to perfection. At times in my life, I have felt overwhelmed by this comparison that Jesus brings in Matthew 5 (and elsewhere). I am in no way perfect. Even as a Minister of the Gospel, I feel inadequate, I feel like I am not good enough...I'm not PERFECT as my HEAVENLY FATHER is PERFECT, much to my frustration and pain. What is Jesus doing here? In all of His sermons and stories, Jesus (and Paul, Peter, John, James, and others) challenged the relegiosity of those who lead, and yet completely misunderstood God through the Scriptures. They held their traditions, and extra books higher than scripture, and Jesus brought it back to the point: God is Love, and those who are called by His name should imitate His love. How does God love so perfectly? He corrects, He rebukes, He blesses, He raises up, and much more beside! So if we, who are called by His name do not know our God, how can we love like Him? Let us, with the Holy Spirit as our interpreter, search the scriptures and get to know our God intimately that we may imitate Jesus the way He imitates His Father. Let us seek to be perfect in love, as our Heavenly Father is perfect in love. Let us be imitators, not just in word, but in how we love Him and all others.