Pastor Todd Holman
St. Paul United Methodist Church, La Porte City
Matthew 5:48: Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It’s a fascinating thing when we find passages like this in Scripture. God commands holiness to shine in and through all of us. It’s a calling that reminds us our life in Christ is a transformation that sanctifies us to God in love and perfection. Many people understand this at some level, and yet most argue the impossibility of ever obtaining it. The psalmist in Psalm 119:96 states, I have seen a limit to all perfection; thy commandment is exceedingly broad.
In my first ordination interview I was asked a Wesleyan question that I was not quite prepared to answer. (John Wesley is one of the founders of Methodism) The board asked, “Do you expect to be perfected in this lifetime?” I concluded this was a trick or test. If I answered yes, obviously there isn’t much humility in that line of thinking. And if I answered no, they might think I was incompetent. So, I resorted to years of stored up worthless dialogue from watching too many movies, and found one I especially liked from Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters. I firmly stated, “I’m not at liberty to say.”
Eventually over the years I’ve come to recognize this was a moment that helped change the direction of my life. There seems to be a constant tension with a call to be perfect, and a reminder of what a sinful nature human beings succumb to. However, a major reason that tension often exists is due to the desire to receive constant communion from God with no effort on our behalf. The tension is relieved when we truly live out our faith in the gift of life that Christ gives us. It requires our due diligence to be immersed in God’s grace. When we discover what it means to love and follow the living God with a whole heart, rather than loving the idea of a God who can save us, a real transformation of God’s salvific grace begins the work of love and perfection that only Christ can give.