A Perfect Promise

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

I realize I may have already lost you with our opening scripture. Perfect is a far too potent word. We’re comfortable using it to describe our Savior and what awaits us in heaven, but we certainly don’t want to apply it to us in the here and now.

And yet, the words before us emerged from Jesus’ lips during His Sermon on the Mount.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48, emphasis mine

Yep. Jesus said it. Right after He instructed us to love our enemies.

“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 if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Matthew 5:43-46, emphasis mine

According to Jesus, anyone can love those who love in return. Sons and daughters of God, however, will also love their enemies. And not just love them, but advocate for them through prayer. Then He sums up His teaching with a charge to be perfect, in the same way that our heavenly Father is perfect.

That’s a pretty tall order, don’t you think? Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant perfect. After all, perfection is impossible, an unattainable goal.

Perhaps this is a good time to ponder another of Jesus’ statements.

“All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

Beloved, what we find impossible, Jesus makes possible.

What we find impossible, Jesus makes possible. Mark 9:23 Click To Tweet

And He commands us to love perfectly—not just our friends, but our enemies—just like the Father does. Impossible?

I can’t help wondering, dear one. Have you and I limited the power of the cross in our lives through unbelief? Have we set boundaries on what we’ll believe Jesus can accomplish here?

What if a church perfected in love is the very thing He’s waiting for to herald His return?

I know. It sounds crazy. But let’s at least entertain the thought a moment. The word translated “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 is teleios in Greek, and it means perfect, mature, finished (#5046, Strong’s). Paul used the same word in Colossians 1:28.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Paul wrote that his goal—his reason for toiling in ministry—was to present everyone mature in Christ. According to the Greek, we could also say it this way. To present everyone finished. Perfect.

 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

This I know for certain, dear one. Jesus would not command something of us that He did not provide the power to accomplish. What if He’s simply waiting for a generation who will believe He’s able to do it?

Our word teleios also appears in Ephesians 4:13.

 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood (unto a perfect man, KJV), to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13

You may need to read it again to let it sink in.

All that Jesus provided through His grace for the work of ministry centers on one purpose: building up the body until we attain the unity of faith that flows from intimate knowledge of Him. That unity will take place as individuals mature—or become perfected—attaining the full measure of Christ’s stature.

Beloved, Jesus desires to reveal the full measure of who He is through you and me. He gave us His nature. Now He wants His church to mature, stop fighting one another, and reveal it.

And He will accomplish it before the end.

You see, Jesus always prays according to His Father’s will, so He always gets what He asks for (1 John 5:14-15). And before He allowed an angry mob to nail Him to that cross, He prayed these words.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23

There’s that word perfect again. This word comes from the same root but carries the verb form, teleioō (#5048, Strong’s). It means, “to perfect, complete, finish, to reach a goal, be fulfilled, completed, made perfect.”

Jesus prayed for His body—you and me— to be made perfect, to mature to such a level that we would all be one with each other in the same way that He and the Father are. Perfectly one. Can you imagine it, dear one?

When it happens—and it will happen—the world will recognize that Jesus really did come from the Father. And they will know that God loves.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

One question remains, beloved. Will ours be the generation that sees it accomplished? Will we grow up in Him to maturity, attaining the full measure of His stature so that we can reveal His love?

I choose to believe, dear one, not in my own will or ability, but in the power of my God. He is able to do far beyond all we could ask or think, according to His power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).

Let’s tear down the boundaries we have set up, lose ourselves in His perfect love, and let Jesus loose a little glory.

I pray,beloved,

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of GodEphesians 3:17-19

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