Here is a link to our Gospel reading for today from Matthew:
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Well, when I have this kind of reaction to a passage from Scripture, my first inclination is to preach on some other reading, any other reading, but I also know from experience, that when I have this kind of negative reaction to a passage from Scripture, that God is calling me to stick with the passage and go deeper. So that is what I did. The way that this verse is translated into English sounds like a command to a kind of moral perfectionism, but that’s not what the original language, Greek, actually means. “Perfect,” in this case, stems from the Greek word telos. Telos is the Greek word for “goal,” “end,” or “purpose.” The sense of the word is more about becoming what was intended, accomplishing one’s God-given purpose in the same way that God constantly reflects God’s own nature and purpose. I think Eugene Peterson’s translation of this passage in The Message gets closer to the real meaning. Peterson translates it: “You are kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity.”
So, what gets in your way of being the kind of person that God created you to be? What wounds or pain do you carry around with you that diminish the light of Christ within you? What is holding you back from living fully and totally into your God-given identity of being a loving, giving, light-bearing and generous human being?
Now on a slip of paper write: “You are God’s beloved child. Be what you have been called to be.” Perhaps you could carry this slip of paper with you throughout the week, pulling it out when it seems particularly hard to follow Jesus in the way of love. Perhaps you could read this slip of paper when you find yourself falling back into a place of fear, hurt, and woundedness. Perhaps this slip of paper could be a reminder to you that the light of Christ is within you too.
You are a beloved child of God. Let the Light of Christ that is within you shine forth. Be the person that God created you to be. A person who loves, gives, heals, nourishes, embraces and shares. For when you heal yourself, you heal the world.
O God of Love,
Look kindly upon the flame that is in each of our souls.
Thou it glows like a tiny sapphire,
Barely visible in the dark,
It contains the light of life.
It is precious to us,
For in this infant flame we know you dwell;
And as you choose to dwell in each of us,
So also must we be precious in your sight.
In your patience, Lord, never allow these flames,
however small, to be extinguished.
Let us nurture it in stillness,
Giving it ample room to breathe;
And grant us patience as we watch and feel it grow,
Into the Light of Life. Amen.