The Perfection that is Love
A reader insists that Jesus fulfilled all the demands of the law to perfection.
He did overcome the exacting demands of the law, not by following every possible letter of the law, but by transcending the law. The end of the law is always supposed to be that love is manifest and when one’s actions bring the highest love possible the law is fulfilled.
Thus it is written:
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40
To fulfill the demands of the law Jesus merely had to obey these two great commandments for on them the intent of every single law of God is based.
For instance, when the Jews brought to him the woman who was caught in adultery they thought he would advise that she be stoned to death for that was the literal law.
Instead of encouraging obedience to this outdated law he made the famous statement: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
After the crowd left, condemned by their own consciences, Jesus told the woman that he did not condemn her to the demands of the law and she escaped the death sentence.
Now if his mindset was to perfectly and literally obey the law in all circumstances then he would have encouraged the crowd to stone her to death because that was what the law said should be done.
The end of all laws of God is that love should manifest and thus Jesus fulfilled this awkward law because love indeed was the end result because of the way he dealt with it.
Many Christians have a strange idea of just what the perfection of Jesus was and most of these beliefs are not supported anywhere in the scriptures.
Just how far do you go with this perfection idea?
Do we believe that he never told a single lie, never late for dinner, never playing around and literally breaking the Sabbath, never disobedient to his parents…Hmmm – how about the time he sneaked away from his parents and camped out in the temple for three days worrying his mother to death?
If this was anyone else besides Jesus all would agree that he broke the fourth commandment because he was not honoring the wishes of his mother.
The trouble with maintaining the idea that Jesus perfectly obeyed the black and white laws is that many of them are so subject to interpretation that there is no possible criteria to establish that perfect obedience is even possible.
For instance, as far as Jesus honoring his mother goes, some could say that his attending to his Son of God duties neutralized that commandment for him, but others may disagree.
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder in many cases and in the eyes of Jesus’ mother he was not perfectly obedient here.
Do we extend his perfection even further? Did he never give a wrong answer in school? Did he never add, subtract or multiply wrongly? Did he never lose his temper? Did he always beat his opponent at sports?
When one sets up Jesus as flawless in a black and white manner he is not only going contrary to the scriptures, but against all common sense and all that is good about being human.
Sometimes I think of my wife and her quirky little ways of doing things that I would consider flaws if I were to do them, but they are part of the whole package that makes up her. Often when I think thoughts of love toward her, images of these off-beat “flaws” come to my mind and generate more tender feelings than do the parts of her that seem flawless.
Even so with Jesus… I guarantee to you that none of those who were close to him in his lifetime considered him perfect and even his closest apostles had advice as to how to improve himself. Yet when he was taken from their midst what thoughts of him do you suppose generated the most loving thoughts and memories?
It was the memories of actions and words from him that challenged the law and the standard model of perfection
On reflection his disciples saw love manifest in all his actions and words and this was the reason they wrote of him that he was “without blemish.” Who cares whether or not he picked an olive from a neighbor’s tree without asking?
Setting Jesus up as some robotic computer program that flawlessly performs does indeed set him at an unapproachable distance from us. Probably not one single person on this planet can or will claim to have never made a mistake and probably none can see themselves at a believable level where they will be so perfect that they will henceforth never make a mistake in any area of life again.
Many can see themselves reaching Gandhi’s level of perfection, but the flawlessness of an illusionary Jesus is not something any can claim.
But when we realize the “perfect” following of the will of God in Jesus consists of two things a different light is put on the subject. We realize that we can be like Christ if the motive of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves runs through all of our thoughts and deeds.
Such a realization cause John to write:
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” I John 3:2-3
We will be like him not because we are capable of being flawless according to black and white obedience to law, but because we have learned to turn every situation into a manifestation of love.
Do you think you would have seen Jesus as flawless if you had lived with him as a disciple?
Do you think that this illusionary concept of perfection associated with Jesus hinders the manifestation of love in the churches?
Which of these two is the greatest power drawing you to Christ – (1) His perfection or (2) His love?
April 26, 2001
Copyright by J J Dewey
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