PERFECT OR PERFECT LOVE?
I recently preached a message on perfection. In doing so I spoke of perfect actions, perfect deportment, perfect treatment of one’s fellow man. I used, among others, the scripture found in Matthew 5 where Jesus admonishes his followers to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” I pointed out that just as God makes his rain and sunshine to fall upon all, “the just and the unjust,” so should we treat, pray for, bless, and do good to all without regard as to whether they be friend or foe. I don’t recall ever mentioning “perfect love” as is found in 1 John and the teachings of John Wesley.
After the message and the conclusion of the service there was the normal interchange with the congregation and the kind remarks concerning the sermon. Kind remarks? Yes! However there was one individual who I felt was not at ease with the message. He pointed out that I had misquoted one scripture (which really didn’t take away from or add to the message) and then as a passing shot referred to “perfect love.” I got his message; which was that our motives can and should be perfect, but our actions will always be faulty. Since then I have given his “passing shot” much consideration.
Today among those who claim to believe in Christian perfection it seems that this perfection is “perfect love,” which one may have and still come up short in his dealings with his fellow man. “Nobody’s perfect!” Except Jesus of course. In the message I pointed out that we were to grow to be perfect men and that this growth proceeds “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” This achieved we then handle each situation in life just as Jesus would handle it.
James, in his Biblical epistle, dealt with a similar problem. The argument then was between faith and works. (It seems we still have that argument today don’t we?) People claimed that they were justified by faith and even if their works came up short their faith still justified them. James responded to this with: “shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” So now, I can hear James saying, “show me thy perfect love without thy perfect works and I will show you my perfect love by my perfect works.”
I have asked this question before, allow me to ask it again: What sin do I have to commit?