CALLED TO PERFECTION – 2

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST

(Part 117)

CALLED TO PERFECTION – 2

February 28, 2015

Today’s readings:

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Psalm 119:1-8

Matthew 5:43-48

The call of God to us in its fullness is impossible for man. It is a call to be perfect just as the heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48). In fact, this call is unnatural. We are sinful flesh so how can we attain to the perfection of the Father? Just consider how so few saints (canonized) there are compared to the billions of people in the world who were and are carnal and worldly.

See how unnatural it is. What is natural? To “hate your enemy.” (Mt 5:43b). What is unnatural? To “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). But this is precisely God’s point. Jesus tells us this so “that you may be children of your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:45a). God is perfect, and so should His children be. God created a perfect world where there was no sin, and God intends to restore this perfection in heaven, where we are destined to go.

What is natural is to be worldly. It is to be like the tax collectors and the pagans (Mt 5:46b,47b). What is unnatural is to be other-worldly. It is to be set apart. It is to be holy and be a saint.

For man this is impossible, but for God nothing is impossible. So how can we be holy and perfect? Who are the saints and how do they live? “They do no wrong; they walk in his ways.” (Ps 119:3). God has told us the way we are to live. God has given us His commands. “You have given them the command to observe your precepts with care.” (Ps 119:4). God has given us our guidebook, the Bible. God has made us part of His Church, the body of Christ on earth.

We have all the help and grace and empowerment we need. We just need to respond positively and apply ourselves to God’s law. “May my ways be firm in the observance of your statutes!” (Ps 119:5). God has already shown us the way. We must first learn and seriously consider God’s ways. “Then I will not be ashamed to ponder all your commandments.” (Ps 119:6). Second, we must study and reflect and enter more deeply into God’s law, with great sincerity of heart. “I will praise you with sincere heart as I study your righteous judgments.” (Ps 119:7). Finally we must resolve to obey, neither veering to the right or to the left, but keeping to God’s straight path. “I will observe your statutes” (Ps 119:8a). Ponder, study, observe. Such is the path to holiness.

The Church is the new Israel. Just as God entered into a covenant with Israel, so too do we have a covenant with God as Christians, through the blood of Jesus. We cannot attain to holiness just on our own, but need the help of others likewise called. And God looks not just to individual holy persons, but to a whole community that He can call His own and use for His purposes.

What is covenant all about? Well, it is a truly great and wonderful deal! When “you have accepted the Lord’s agreement: he will be your God” (Dt 26:17a)! But we have our part to play. We are to “walk in his ways, observe his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey his voice.” (Dt 26:17b).

To fail to do so would have dire consequences, as we could cut ourselves off from God. Thus we have to seriously and steadfastly and wholeheartedly try to observe our end of the agreement. “This day the Lord, your God, is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances. Be careful, then, to observe them with your whole heart and with your whole being.” (Dt 26:16).

On the other hand, to observe God’s commands would have truly magnificent consequences. We become God’s special people, and He will protect, preserve and prosper us, raising us in renown over all. “And today the Lord has accepted your agreement: you will be a people specially his own, as he promised you, you will keep all his commandments, and he will set you high in praise and renown and glory above all nations he has made” (Dt 26:18-19a).

Then we can finally become the people God truly desires us to be. Thus “you will be a people holy to the Lord, your God” (Dt 26:19b).

“Blessed those whose way is blameless, who walk by the law of the Lord. Blessed those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with all their heart.” (Ps 119:1-2).

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