In this year of the coronavirus pandemic pro sports are slowly starting up again and it got me thinking about the excitement you feel as an athlete as you prepare for a new season to start. Part of the excitement is that you start the season with the objective to win every game. Let that sink in for a minute. It’s true, isn’t it? Even though you know you’re not going to win every game you never step onto the field (or the court or the ice) planning to lose. And losing doesn’t lower your objective. Your objective is to win 100% of the time and the reality that you don’t win every time doesn’t change the objective to do so.
So it is with the objective Jesus gave his followers to live by in Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are always to live toward this objective, to obey perfectly every command of God. As C.S. Lewis said, “it’s not idealistic gas.” It’s not just some lofty platitude; it’s really what we are to live toward. And the fact that we don’t live in complete righteousness should not change our objective to do so. We should start each new day determined to live in perfect obedience to God.
When we stumble and fail in our efforts to live up to the Lord’s commands, he promises forgiveness and restoration: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). As we confess and repent the Lord will help us back to our feet and his objective for us will remain unchanged: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It’s not idealistic gas. Our goal is to live as Jesus lived.
A good way to pursue this objective with greater consistency is to stay focused on Jesus’ answer when he was asked to identify the greatest commandment. “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40). To “be perfect” start here.
Having begun as a guest speaker in 2005, Dan was appointed Interim Pastor in 2008 and has been serving Maple Root Baptist ever since. As a small group leader and Chaplin for the Connecticut Tigers, Dan has a heart for the lost and the God that saves them.