How to Be Perfect
Theatre III – Code Red Christianity
It’s been said that the most unnecessary part of an apology is, “I’m not perfect.” Well, duh! I’m not perfect and neither are you, and nobody has ever suspected that either of us is. None of us is perfect and none of us ever can be. Or can we?
Surprisingly, Jesus insists that we not only can but that we should be perfect. Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) Now, when Jesus says, “…as your heavenly Father,” he is being specific. He means we should be perfect in one particular way. Jesus doesn’t say, “Be perfect in every way” but rather, “Be perfect like God in this one, specific way.” And what is that one way? It is the way of inclusion.
Many preachers have advised that whenever we see the word, “therefore,” we should back up and figure out what “therefore” is there for! Since Mt. 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore…” let’s back up a nugget or two and see what’s going on. Then we should see clearly, and once we see clearly it will change the complexion of the War on RD.
Starting in Matthew 5:46 Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
Jesus says that if you love only those who love you, you’re doing about as well as a conniving thief. Then he says that if you love only your family or inner circle or those the same color as you, you’re doing about as well as someone whose god is money or fame or who knows what. (Mt. 5:46-47) Congratulations…not!
We can’t be perfect in every way but we can be perfect in one way, and to God it is the only way that matters: We can love everyone!
Does your “god” dislike the same people you dislike? If so, your god is not God. If your god likes some people and dislikes others, your god is not the Heavenly Father but the god of flaming hypocrisy, the god of selective love and– get this!–the god of racial dissonance. But of course your god is not that God! Just as we can’t be perfect in every way but must be perfect in the way of inclusion, we cannot root all hypocrisy out of our Christian walk but we must root out one particular strain. That strain is the hypocrisy of selective love. We can’t choose to love some people and not love others. Why? Because we are all beggars, and everyone knows that beggars can’t be choosers. We gotta love everybody.
The hypocrisy of selective love is the most pervasive and most destructive of all “Christian” pretenses. Selective love is conduct unbecoming an authentic Christian. And until and unless we become intentional about purging this particular form of hypocrisy, every racial discussion and every racial initiative is doomed to be a colossal waste of breath, time and money.
Maybe you’re thinking, as I did for many years, “This perfection bit sounds good but I know I’ll come up short. And even if by some miracle I don’t come up short, many others will. So what’s the use? How can we possibly, as a community, pull off the lofty goal of all-inclusive love?
I’m so glad you asked those questions! The answer is Poo Pie, and if you’ll kindly turn the page, Jesus will gladly share his Poo Pie with you.
Before we turn the page, though, let’s back up just half a nugget more, to Matthew 5:6 (b). Here we read, “He causes his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” What Jesus is saying here is a hard, hard truth. He is saying that if we aren’t intentional about loving everyone, then we really don’t love anyone, including those nearest and dearest to us. God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), and since God is love, we must love as God loves in order for our love to be authentic.
Without a firm commitment to inclusion, our “love” is nothing more than an extreme case of affection. It is an inferior counterfeit of love. Like it or not, genuine love–God’s perfect love–covers all six billion of us. So our love must cover all six billion of us. Now then, who’s up for some Poo Pie?
Red Racial Nugget #4: “If you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Mt. 5:46)
Be street smart yet harmless. Peace.