Pastor Mark’s Column
March Voice Message
by Mark S
“Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
Are you a perfectionist? This is the text for you huh?! Wow, be perfect like God. Sure…piece of cake Jesus. I was waiting for you to finally give us a real challenge.
Actually, I don’t really believe it’s as bad as it sounds. And, while “perfect” is a perfectly acceptable translation of this word. I’ve read from a few Bible scholars that it might not be the best way to translate this verse.
The Greek word translated for “perfect” is telos. Telos doesn’t have the connotation so much of “moral perfection,” as we might link with perfection. Telos has more to do with its intended outcome. For instance:
- The telos of an arrow shot by an archer is to reach its target.
- The telos of a grape vine is to produce grapes.
Looking at this word “telos” in this context…the verse might better read, as Bible scholar David Lose suggests, “Be the person and community God intended you to be, just as God is the one God is supposed to be.”
This makes much more sense doesn’t it? God knows we aren’t going to be perfect. Jesus knows we can’t be perfect! If we could be perfect we wouldn’t have any need for Jesus. Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come into this world, or die for our sins. We can’t be perfect. But, we can, I believe work toward being who God intends us to be. Not perfect either, but probably better than we think.
This past month St. Peter Lutheran celebrated the life of four of its saints, and commended them to God’s eternal care. Funeral services were held at St. Peter for Edna Knoll, Elsie Bohrofen, Vaunda Heckman and Gene Small. I got to proclaim this Good News of the Gospel. The Good News that it is not about us being perfect, but about God being perfect. God’s perfect love for us. As the Apostle Paul says, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8) “Nothing can separate us,” even and especially our imperfection.
“Be the person and community God intended you to be, just as God is the one God is supposed to be.” Don’t worry about being perfect. Just be the best you that you feel called to be.