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Friday Bible Reading | I Have to be Perfect?!?

Friday, January 30. Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus has been turning the Law of Moses inside out in Matthew 5. He ends his list of deepened laws with a zinger. Love your enemies. Ouch. It’s easy to love people who will love you back, right? We typically love those people so that they will love us back. Who is the focus of that kind of love? Me. I want to be loved, so I love the person who will return the love.

God’s love is not like that. God’s love is selfless, other-focused love. It is the kind of love that loves people who probably won’t return the love, like an enemy. It’s the kind of love that sees the enemy’s perspective and understands where all the hatred is coming from and wants to bring healing to the hateful heart, not vengeance.

But then, Jesus makes things even more complicated. In the NRSV translation, Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

What?!? I have to be perfect? That’s impossible!

Actually that’s true. It is impossible to be perfect, but that is not the most helpful translation of the Greek word: telos. The word means end or goal. It’s a word that asks, “What’s the point?”

Well, here’s the point of God’s promise for humanity: Love. God is love. We were created, and are continually being created, by love and for love. When we put aside our selfishness and begin to seek what is good for other people, even our enemies, then we are starting to get the point, the telos, of God’s mission and promise for earth.

I like the way the Message translates it. “Grow up!” The mark of a mature Jesus-follower is deep, unconditional, other-oriented, how-can-I-help-you love.

May you walk more fully in the love of God today.

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