Friday, March 06, 2009

Be Perfect

March 7, 2009

Saturday of the First Week in Lent

Today you are making this agreement with the LORD: he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees, and to hearken to his voice. Deuteronomy 26:17

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45


Jesus, help us to love as you and the Father love. If we can not live up to your model, let us die trying to love perfectly. Amen.


The way God is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible can seem harsh and vengeful, almost war-like. But, when you crawl into some of the nooks and crannies of these historical books, a different picture emerges. Deuteronomy is one of those surprises. Today, we do not encounter the God of the rules in Leviticus or the God banishing us in Genesis. We are reminded of the gentle, strolling covenant we enter into with our Abba, our God. “Walk in his ways.”

What are his ways? Nothing short of perfect love and mercy for everyone…including those who persecute you. Jesus gives us an image of the equality of love which marks God’s regard for us…he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

God does not take sides. God showers love and mercy on everyone. He would not make a good member of the parole board or a jury. If God were voting, there would never be a death penalty.

Popular culture overuses the image of perfection in many imperfect ways. Society never connects such perfection to love or mercy. Bowlers throw a perfect game when they knock down all 300 pins in a game. Pitchers toss a perfect game when they get every batter out – 27 in a row in a nine inning game. Of course, Bo Derek was a perfect 10 right before Mary Lou Retton and her tender ankle and Romanian coach were forever linked to that number and gymnastic gold. Fran Tarkenton wore that number to Hall of Fame proportions but was hardly the perfect quarterback in New York or Minneapolis. In basketball, Walt Frazier was the perfect 10 for the Knicks and Phil Rizzuto handled short stop perfectly for the Yankees.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias tell us that perfection is the absence of flaws. Winston Church once remarked, “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.”

Our journey is the journey from imperfection toward (if not to) perfection. It is a journey done for most of us far from the klieg lights of Broadway and press conferences. We may never be able to live without flaws. But when our love is complete for everyone, those we like and those we do not like, then we will be like our Father. Perfect. Until then, we will be perfectly imperfect.


Do something today that surprises even yourself – something you would not normally expect yourself to do.

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