By Hannah Henderson
One of the most misunderstood fundamentals of basic Christianity is the question of how to attain perfection in Christ. Is such a high 'standard' of discipleship even possible? It appears, on the surface, to command a negative response. There also appears to exist inexplicable contradiction on the subject, even in scripture. However, this is only the case because most Christians understand perfection only in the context of its dictionary definition. Ignorant of the Bible's definition of perfection causes the believer to assume that the perfect Christian is one that never sins. Although sinlessness and perfection are certainly intertwined, they are, by no means, the same thing.
The believer's occasional sins don't prevent him from attaining perfection in the Lord whose word has already taught that there's no man that never sins (KJV, I Kings 8.46). Considering this truth, it should now be clearly evident that Christ was not referring to the commission of occasional sins when He spoke on perfection. In Matthew 5.48, Jesus said, "be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The simple key to understanding what perfection is, lies right in the very same passage. In the verses above, Jesus said, "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you. And pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
The Lord ended this passage with the order to be perfect. What was the subject around which His speech had revolved just before He made this commandment? Was not His topic on love that extended even to the believer's enemy and persecutor? He could not state any more explicitly just what perfection means according to God, not man. Perfection is love; it is love that reaches even to the believer's enemies. 1 John 4.8 says that God is love. Therefore, when the believer is filled with love, he is filled with God. This is the prize of the Christian. Is not perfection the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets? In Matthew 22.37-40, Jesus said, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Did not the apostle Paul remind believers of the definition of perfection when he taught saying, "and above all these things, put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness" (KJV, Colossians 3.14)?
These teachings on the definition of Christian perfection in God's eyes are no more than a very basic foundation upon which the believer must carefully build. Such prudence is vital to avoid deception in how to implement into real life, love according to Christ, not to man's reasoning. Misunderstanding in the carrying out of spiritual love may easily lead to the servant of God becoming a 'door mat' instead of the useful soldier he is meant to be.
There are numerous saints of God living in countries where Christians endure horrendous torture and persecution for their faith in Christ. Nevertheless, organizations such as: In Jesus' Name Ministries, report the stories of their courageous love for their enemies. These men, women and children of God took Him seriously when He told them to be perfect.
Hannah Henderson is a web developer, ordained missionary, and author of Bible studies and Christian articles featured at http://www.HeavenlyManna.net