Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Be Perfect? Ouch!!!

We are all familiar with the scriptural injunction to be perfect. As the Savior instructed, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).But there is a lot of misunderstand as to what that means.
Later, after His resurrection, the Savior gives this same command to the Nephites but He adds something significant. In 3 Nephi 12:48 He says, "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." The important question here is why didn't He include Himself in the command when He delivered it to the people before His death?
The key to understanding is in the definition of the word perfect. The first definition in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is, "Being entirely without fault or defect." In other words "being flawless." (That's where the OUCH!!! comes in.)  But the second definition says, "Satisfying all requirements." I'm thankful that's the definition of the Greek word that is translated in our New Testament as perfect and it is the definition intended in the scriptures! And how do we know?

Remember before His resurrection the Savior challenged us to be perfect like our Father in Heaven is perfect. But after His resurrection He includes Himself and asks us to be perfect like our Father in Heaven and like He is. Jesus was at all times flawless, so if that was the meaning He could have included Himself the first time. But when he first challenges us to be perfect He had not yet "satisfied all the requirements." That didn't happen until He was resurrected. Only then was He perfect or completed. 
Being perfect in a gospel sense isn't about flawlessness. God knew we couldn't be flawless and so He provided a Savior for us. But He wants us to be completed in that we receive all the covenants, and we won't receive them all in this life. We, like our Savior, need to move on to the next life and be resurrected before we will be completed.

Now that certainly is GOOD NEWS! Forget about working to be completely flawless or feeling shame because you aren't flawless or trying to put on a front so others think you are flawless. Instead, relax and concentrate on being your wonderful, natural, flawed self that is working toward completion. There is so much peace and hope in that!

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