We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 1 John 2, verse 3.
Jesus told us not just to do better: Jesus tells us to be perfect. There’s a scene in “Remember the Titans” where the team reminds Denzel Washington that he had implored them to be perfect (in how they played football). They were in danger of losing their first game, and Coach Denzel is giving them the speech about how that’s ok. One of the players stands up and reminds the team, then, that they had been taught to be perfect, so they should strive for perfection now.
Good lesson for all of us.
Let’s face it: the touchy, feely, lovey Jesus is only part of His personality. The other part is justly radical and harsh. He is God, man and Spirit all in one triune being, and He demands perfection. He doesn’t just teach us to live in love: He also teaches us to brutally scour out all wrongdoing in our lives. Actions, thoughts, words, friends, family, even parts of our body: if they cause us to sin (or, worse, cause others to), He tells us to radically expel them from our lives. And He reminds us that, if we don’t and if we tolerate sin, then He will sadly but forcefully damn us to hell forever.
Jesus’ brother, James, taught that faith without works is dead. We don’t earn salvation with what we do, but Jesus fully intends for us to let Him change us, then for us to act on how He changes us. He wants us to change even the smallest detail, to reflect how He changes our hearts. The consequences of not doing that are that excruciating damnation, void of hope for love in eternity.
So how do we strive for perfection? Simple: we do what He says. He commands us to love one another. So let’s do it. He commands us to give unlimited forgiveness. So let’s do it. He commands us to change and turn from the ways that led us into wrong. So let’s do it. You get the picture.
Easier said than done, right? I struggle with that every day. I post too many rants on Facebook. I’m intolerant of people who think different from me. I’m angry on the road. I’m short with my kids and my wife. I’m selfish with my time. Hardly doing what Jesus wants me to do, eh? How about you? Do we want to do better? Then maybe we really need to let Him take control and simply do it. Then we can truly know Him. It’ll prove to others that the change is real, and that He is real.
I think even Denzel might agree with that.
Lord Jesus, I’m not perfect but you are. Strengthen me to strive for your ideal, and change how I live the life You’ve given to me.