“A More Perfect Union” …. Matthew 5:48

February 23, 2017

From Pastor Bill Mugnolo                                HARP”s Pastoral Advisor

“A Word for this Week”: “A More Perfect Union” …. Matthew 5:48

       The Preamble of the United States Constitution begins with the stirring words, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …”. A noble sentiment, indeed! But if we were aiming to be “more perfect” did that make us “merely perfect” under our previous governing document, the “inadequate” Articles of Confederation? Then, while the Constitution was to make us “more perfect”, the United States, as great as it might be, is still, in many ways, less than perfect. So if more perfect is still less than perfect what then is perfect? It’s quite confusing, isn’t it?

       So what is perfection? Let’s consider these words of Jesus, “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Before you get overwhelmed by this, Our Lord is not talking about some sinless perfection on our part. This, while we are yet here on earth, is not possible (Ecclesiastes 7:20, 1 John 1:8). But what we are meant to be is “whole” and “complete”. It is, in fact, a better rendering of Matthew 5:48 to say “You, therefore, must be whole and complete as you heavenly Father is whole and complete.”

       We show such wholeness when we “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-39), “go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:40-42), and love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-47). These qualities God, in His completeness, has first shown towards us (Ezra 9:13, 2 Peter 3:9, Romans 5:10). We might read this and say, “Whew! This all seems more reasonable than having to be ‘perfect’”. But how often do we want to strike right back at those who have hurt us? Or grow impatient with those who demand so much of our time and attention? And how often is it hard enough to love even those whom we consider to be our friends?

       Yes, to do these things so as to form “a more perfect union” with both God and others while we’re still on earth is hard enough! But we can take comfort in what Paul says in Philippians 3:12 when he speaks of himself as “not having been made perfect” yet. As his words tell us, we don’t perfect ourselves—God does! All as he leads us toward that “most perfect union” yet to come (Philippians 1:6).

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