By Leslie G. Thomas
One of the most beautiful and perfect things in the world is a red rose. Yet that rose was perfected from the wild rose that grows by our roadside. Some lover of flowers had a vision, an ideal and our American Beauty rose is the result. In a little book on the growing of roses a horticulturist says, “Before you can have beautiful roses on your lawn or in your greenhouse, you must have beautiful roses in your mind.” Exactly! And that is true of other things, hence Christ said: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48).
It is profoundly true, as Phillips Brooks says, that “we are haunted by an ideal life. It is in our blood and never will be still.” Each person has an ideal, a vision splendid, and he also has an intended development to which he can add or subtract according to his desires. The controlling power of life comes from within. It is within the citadel of our own being that we find the powers that make our happiness and usefulness.
But to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect is one of the thoughts we shy away from. We think it is one of those transcendent calls of Christ which are really too far above ordinary people. The word “perfect” frightens us, and we feel that we are not capable of translating it into our life and conduct. Maybe at no point will we ever fully attain and be satisfied with our efforts. Our reach is nearly always greater than our grasp. There is continually fresh light flowing from the life of Christ to inspire us and make us dissatisfied with our efforts in our upward reach toward the more perfect life. But Christ never demanded the impossible from anyone.
In what respect are we commanded to aim at the perfection of our God? It isn’t in power or knowledge. The range of His omnipotence and His omniscience must forever be beyond our comprehension. It is, then, the character of God which Jesus commands us to emulate. God is perfect as a Father, perfect in His patient, merciful love. He will accept failures which a human master would only reject for He knows when a man’s best efforts have been put into them. Jesus said it is possible for us to be like this.
It requires no effort or sacrifice on our part to love those who love us. But Jesus asks, by God’s help, for us to seek that love by which we will love, not only those who have no love for us, but those who actually hate us. He asks this and expects it from us. This will be possible for us if we open our whole being to the light of God’s word as a rose opens itself to the warm rays of the golden sun.
I saw the roses one by one
Unfold their petals to the sun:
I asked what made their tints so bright.
They answered, “Looking toward the light.”
When we win this wide gracious love, then in this respect we have won perfection. The change and transforma-tion in our life will be just as great and just as noticeable as the difference between a wild rose and our American Beauty, which is fit for the palace of a king. We can do no more , we can reach no higher, for in this we are “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.”
-Mrs. Leslie G. Thomas, 161 Church, Centralia , IL; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com