Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:48
“The journey to the goal of our faith is not easy. The word of God is the light of our pathway and it strengthens us to continue. This is why it is important to be under the word of God and act in accordance with the light that comes with the word of God,” said Apostle Michael Dimba when he conducted a divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 01 February 2015. “As we read in Luke 11:28, he continued, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’.”
Speaking on the text word, the Apostle said that Jesus Christ was fully convinced when he spoke these words. Christ, he said, is a link between us humans who are imperfect and God who is perfect. “Christ does not point the perfection to himself but to the standard of God because Christ looks up to God as the standard of the perfection one should attain.”
“Yes, God is perfect,” said the Apostle, adding that the will and action of God has no difference and he does it in perfection. “Christ looks to God as a reference of perfection. God is the highest form of perfection; God is consistent.”
Christ also teaches us about that perfection by exemplifying that perfection in his life. Firstly, he was able to discern between what is right and what is unacceptable. That is why he was able to resist the devil because he knew what was godly and what was ungodly.
The Apostle reminded us that the devil is very innovative. “His profit is to put doubt in our souls and drift from God. But God is teaching us that if we have the wisdom like Christ to discern between right and wrong, we will be able to resist the smallest things that the devil entices us with.”
Christ was a perfect servant of God, added the Apostle. “He did what was expected by God and he did not deviate – he accomplished his mission bringing redemption and salvation. This was hard and painful – he was crucified – but he did his mission perfectly so that we could receive perfect redemption. Christ is an example for us to do what God expects of us.”
But what does God expect of us?
“He wants us to love him above all. Christ taught us how to love God with our entire being. When we follow the example of loving God in a perfect way, it pleases God. Christ loved God and his neighbour – he loved everyone, not just a certain group of people. His example of love knows no boundaries. He was prepared to lay down his life because of his love for humankind.”
The Apostle said Christ was also a perfect example of unity with God. “He strived for that even when he was on the cross. Even in difficult situations, he never separated from God – he never allowed his will to be separated from the will of God. This is another perfect example for us. We need to uphold the oneness with God using the example of Christ.”
How did Christ teach us about love?
Love is the standard which we must uphold and be known for, said the Apostle. He encouraged members to read Matthew 5:43-48 where Christ speaks about loving our enemy. “Christ brought this challenge to us as loving our enemy is the perfect way of showing love. Now that does not mean we must go all our enemies and tell them we love them and hug them; what it means is that we must pray for them to receive salvation – for them to understand the word of God which is the light of the soul.
“Don’t wish them ill-wishes. Try your best to be merciful. Remember every action has a spirit behind it. We judge people on how they act and we do not see the spirit behind it and then we draw our own conclusions. Christ saw beyond the action, even when was being crucified, he said ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’.”
Growing into this love is a process, continued the Apostle. We must strive for it daily. Ask yourself, how is my growth in unity with my fellow person, cemented by love? How is my growth in serving the lord perfect? Yes, it is difficult, but it is possible. Christ is our guide. The Apostle added that we also experience God’s offer to perfect us through holy communion.
This word, he said, has a proposal and a promise – a promise of what Christ will do to help us achieve the proposal and progress towards perfection. “This word is a word of encouragement; it is SMART – it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.” He concluded by saying we might not always be 100 percent perfect but it is important to always try because what we try is always covered by the grace of God.
It’s all in the mind
District Elder David Gracey said that every time we hear a word from God, it inspires newness. He asked: “Why do we battle from a spiritual perspective to attain perfection – after all it is a word from God.” Part of the challenge, he said, is that our mind-set tells us that nothing is perfect.
“So we don’t even try. We say, I’m unable to be perfect in a certain way therefore I will not even start trying. Yet, Christ gave us the instruction, therefore it must be possible. God will never give us something that is unattainable. Therefore we have to start. Even if we struggle, let us try. We have to identify our problems – areas we are not perfect in and begin the journey. Small victories make for big battles that are won overtime.
District Elder Pye Oberholzer also served in Afrikaans.
* Adapted from the divine service held at Midrand Congregation on Sunday, 01 February 2015.