Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What Jesus Wouldn't Do

I have been participating in a discussion on another blog. This is what hit me as a result. It doesn't apply directly to meekness, but it certainly applies to what I have been writing since December.

A commenter said: "Not doing anything Jesus wouldn’t do is seriously, way totally hard."

Largely because of my musings about perfection and my New Year's Resolution, I replied with the following (edited to add some things that hit me after I commented):

What if “what Jesus wouldn’t do” is way different than most of us imagine? What if what Ashley is discussing forces us to re-examine our assumptions (many that have descended through a cultural prism that we classify as corrupted over time) about what His “mortal perfection” means? I agree it still is very hard and unattainable all at once, but even the Bible says Jesus grew "from grace to grace" and "in favor with God and man".

I think we buy into the incorrect traditions of our fathers too much with regard to many topics, and how we view “what Jesus wouldn’t do” is one of them. There is something profoundly disturbing about the idea that “little Lord Jesus no crying he makes” and "He never got vexed when the game went wrong" - and it is related directly to our too common acceptance of totally unrealistic expectations, especially for far too many women I know.

To recap, the real meaning of "perfect" is "complete, finished, fully developed". The last thing Jesus said, just before He died on the cross, was, "It is finished." According to Matthew 5:48, He might have said, instead, "I am now perfect." He grew from grace to grace, line-upon-line until he FINALLY could claim, right before he died, "It is finished." Why do we suppose we need to short-circuit the process of growth He experienced and be *now* what He was only at the end?

14 comments:

Mama D said...

I had never made the connection between John 19:30 ("it is finished") with Matt 5:48 ("be ye therefore perfect"). You said, 'He might have said, instead, "I am now perfect."' Truly, He had "completed, finished, fully developed" His will, His role, His saving grace. This takes the atonement to a whole new level. Wow...

Christy said...

Hi. I just happened on your blog by following a lot of links in search of good reading - and I ended here - my quest complete.

I'd like to comment on the Lord's commandment to be "perfect". I like to think of it not as a commandment but an invitation. If we keep following Him - keep seeking Him - keep our promises to the best that our imperfect selves can, this is what He offers us - completeness, perfection. That is my understanding of grace.

I look forward to reading more of your insights.

Papa D said...

christy, thanks for commenting. I don't publicize this blog, but I love it when new readers find it and comment. What you said echoes something else I wrote last December about a correct understanding of being "perfect" as meant in Matthew 5:48.

If you want to read that post, go back to this one and click on the highlighted word "perfection" in the third paragraph. It will take you to that post.

Again, thanks!

adam said...

Hey nice post! You really put this in a nice way. It is a lot easier to focus on growing "grace for grace" rather than worrying about being perfect every day and constantly failing (at least, that's the case for me). We can definitely work on a little every day. Eventually, we may become like Him, but we don't necessarily need to compare EVERYTHING we do to his perfect standard--rather, we should focus more on progress. Not sure if that's exactly what you meant, but I appreciate your thoughts regardless.

Patty said...

I think it's a blessing to be reminded of my imperfection sometimes. It would be hard to be humble if I truly thought that I was absolutely "perfect" in many things, and I think that I would then find it hard to look for and accept the Lord's grace. On the flip side, I do think that many people, women especially, are so busy comparing themselves to others, even to the perfected Lord, that they are halting their own progression to "perfection."
I don't know if Jesus was perfect all along (no crying he makes) but I do know that He attained perfection in the end, and that His example of HOW to get there is what I need to follow, not His end result. We are told to FOLLOW Jesus for a good reason- He leads to where we can't be yet, and we follow behind, learning as we go. And in the end we become finished and perfected because of His grace, not because of anything we accomplished on our own.

Leslie said...

One of my favorite talks was by Elder Nelson, entitled "Perfection Pending".
I have definite perfectionistic expectations of myself. However, one of the blessings that has come from living through the crucible of residency is the realization that most of these perfectionistic expectations are unrealistic and NOT what our Savior asks of me.
For example, I have come to accept that my living room/kitchen/etc. can be a total mess without putting my eternal salvation at risk--so long as I take the time to tend to the things of eternal importance. On the other hand, if Satan can get me sooo totally focused on my messy house that I fail to tend to the things of eternity, well then, I suppose there CAN be eternal consequences; the consequences come not from the mess, however, but from my being distracted from what is TRULY important, by what I PERCEIVE as important.
By this was a long comment which I'm not even sure goes along with your post. Hmmm, . . . I think I'll go take a nap!

Papa D said...

"we should focus more on progress."

That's what I mean, Adam - that "perfection" is the end result of continued progress, NOT an absence of mistakes. The gift of forgiveness changes the standard.

Papa D said...

"We are told to FOLLOW Jesus for a good reason- He leads to where we can't be yet, and we follow behind, learning as we go. And in the end we become finished and perfected because of His grace, not because of anything we accomplished on our own."

Exactly what I wanted to say. Thanks, Patty.

Papa D said...

"this was a long comment which I'm not even sure goes along with your post. Hmmm, . . . I think I'll go take a nap!"

It goes along with the post very well - and I think the nap is a good idea. I might follow your lead and quit trying to stay awake. *grin*

carrie said...

well said ray and those who've already posted comments. this is so important for us to understand and be reminded of often...this idea of perfection is one of those things that causes many of Christ's followers to give up because they don't understand that it is a process or that perfection is an end result, the finished stage or final act.

we need to also be reminded that our progression or striving for perfection is always a personal thing. nobody else exactly has our sensitivities, our stumbling blocks, our weaknesses or do they react to them or strive to correct them in the exact same way or time. just another reason why comparing ourselves is pointless and often destructive. comparing and "following" as patty pointed out are not the same. our loving Father in Heaven personalizes our experiences so we are able to learn and grow in the best way for each of us, to become more perfect. difficult as some of these experiences may be at times, i believe there is a reason for every single one of them and they are always for our good.

Jon 'Cra-Z' Mahoney said...

I think that Christ would have become imperfect by saying he was "now perfect." Wouldn't that be prideful?

Papa D said...

Jon, only if it wasn't true and/or was said in a spirit of pride rather than humility. I believe it was true, and I certainly don't see pride in the circumstances of his death.

Jon 'Cra-Z' Mahoney said...

Agreed. I thought of that while typing it, but figured I'd throw it in here anyway. :-P

Papa D said...

Yeah, that's happened to me more than once, but mine usually hit me right after I've clicked the "Submit" button. *grin*