What a terrifying thing to read as many struggle with perfectionism today. Some have panic attacks and have to take medication to calm perfectionistic nerves.It’s a sad way to live our lives, always trying to be perfect.This verse comes from one of the richest chapters of the Bible that holds lots of Jesus ‘ teaching, including The Sermon on the Mount. It can be even scarier to read this verse in its context:
“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.“
What Jesus asks of us here goes against our human nature. Perfectionism can stem from a deep need to be liked and accepted. Perfectionism enslaves us. Is this God’s plan for us? No.
We can never be perfect, but when we kneel in surrender to God and His ways we let go of what others think, of the need we have to be perfect, and it is God who lives and acts through us. We need not be concerned with being perfect, only to being perfectly surrendered to God. This is how we gain the ability to love our enemies.
There’s a word about socializing here. It’s clear we shouldn’t create a circle of people to associate with, only greeting those who like us because even the greatest sinner does this. We are to be different. We are to stand out. We are to surrender to God so He can do a work in us and that work is perfect! God already loves our enemies! The bar is placed so high that we could never attain this. With God we accomplish the impossible. We accomplish perfection but it is in an ironic fashion. Relax my friend, the ability to be perfect only comes from God. As our culture declares, “Nobody’s perfect!” We are a new creation, not what we were before we met God.
I leave you with a quote by C.S. Lewis, “God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders — no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings — may even give it an awkward appearance.“
Step into the Kingdom, let go and fly, my friend! You are a new creation when you surrender to God. Fly!