Monday, August 28, 2006

Be Perfect

In Matthew 5:48 Christ says "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."

The word in the Bible is Teles or Teleos (or Telos) and is a word meaning complete, finished or fully developed. It is also a word used to describe one who has been through an endowment or an initiation, one who is married and one who is fully adult. Looking at just the word "perfect" can leave one confused as to what Christ meant and just exactly what he wanted us to do -- or so many claim.

Because Christ wanted us to act, to do, to use his words to find meaning, this post is on one small part of what Christ intended us to do when he told us "Be ye therefore perfect." (as to which, a friend of mine says he also must have said "and I do to mean it").

A good place to start is Luke 6:36, where Luke records the same sermon in a slightly different way. Luke records: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your father is also merciful." He follows up with "forgive and ye shall be forgiven." (at 37).

Matthew also reprises this theme when he records Jesus as saying"But go ye and learn what that meaneth: 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice.'" (Matthew 9:13).

It appears that an important part of what Christ wants us to learn, and to learn how to do, is to have mercy. That in commanding us to "be perfect" he is telling us to learn what mercy is.

But the real question is what does that really mean and what should we really do? Everyone knows, for example, that "be reverent" does not mean much without more. That to "be reverent" is more than just another way to say "be quiet" and that the reason we are reverent helps us understand what we are to do on the inside as well as the outside.

The same process applies to that small part of being perfect that is being merciful. To understand the "why" of being merciful as a part of being perfect, I look to two scriptures.

The first is D&C 64:9 "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another, for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin."

The second is D&C 86:5 "Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields."

Have you ever wondered how it can possibly be worse not to forgive someone than to be the one whose unrepented sins have provoked anger? What does that say about the mortal and the eternal worlds, about justice and mercy, and about us?

And what does it say about our world that the angels would just as soon see the day of judgment come without regards to giving any of us more time to repent and be found with the wheat instead of the tares? It is Christ who says to wait.

How and why we should be better than the angels and become more like Christ is the key to the mystery that is mercy.

People speak often of the mysteries of the gospel, but the mysteries are faith, love, mercy and patience (I use patience in the place of hope). These four are cornerstones to walking in the light and becoming like God. Combined with truth and discipline, they are the key to our souls and regaining our place in our heavenly home, to becoming perfect like Christ.

Well, Win is on the way to Utah with Heather for our oldest to start BYU, Rachel is asleep after a busy day and no television (she just did not have time) and I'm blogging on a Monday night when I'd be working out. We even had more rain. May the peace of God attend you like gentle rain on your souls, and may your days, in all their ways, be perfect.


Anonymous said...

I know that I often feel God being so merciful to me when I am weighed down with my anxieties. It is hard for me to filter out what is real danger and what is imagined as I probably have mentioned. And I feel so blessed from God and yet turn around and can be incessant in asking others if something is okay or safe. I can get short with others if they do not conform to what I need in my ocd world such as moving something that scares me or if they drop something on the ground. I used to be so much closer to perfect in how I treated people before all this. I would like to say that it is just the ocd speaking. But I worry if there is a point where I should have chosen to relax rather than to let my feelings escalate and frustrate myself and others. I wish I could treat others always as God and his servants have treated me. I always say that I am not going to talk about ocd anymore, but it is part of who I am and has both hindered me from becoming who I would have liked as well as shaped me in some good ways in its ever humbling hold.

Anonymous said...

Great comments. It is always good to see someone make the connection of perfection and mercy. For me me that sums up the whole atonement. Christ not only saved us from our sins, but his atonment allows us also to let go of our own "justices" that we hang over others, and over ourselves and opens the doors of mercy for us, so that we to can forgive. Thus we can say that Christ not only died for our sins, but perhaps also for our own since of justice,and by doing so He creates our ability to forgive others.