Condensed from my Missions Course (2008).
How can we be perfect as God is perfect?
The passage that enjoins us to be perfect doesn’t say for us to be as perfect as God is but that we should be perfect, just as He also is perfect. Even then, it contains a stumbling block to our understanding if we don’t define the word perfect.
The original word which is translated perfect means complete. That is, to be complete at each stage of one’s development.
Thus a tomato seed is perfect as a seed and when planted in good soil, will sprout into a seedling. At that stage it can be considered perfect in its development though it yields no tomatoes. A few weeks later, the seedling grows into a large plant with many green leaves. It looks perfect and is complete at that stage of its development, but there still are no tomatoes to harvest. Then buds appear and blossom into tiny yellow flowers. At that stage it is perfect – complete – in its development to that point.
The flowers drop off, the tomatoes form and grow large, but they’re still green and unripe. Nevertheless, the plant is perfect in that it is complete in its development to that point. Then the fruit turns red and ripe and luscious. Even though the leaves start to wither and brown, this stage of development is perfect as we can consider it complete.
This progression of different levels of completion in our Christian life is what it means to be perfect – to mature at each stage and keep growing and maturing in Christian grace. That’s how one can be perfect.
For any questions (Bible reference for this post and Greek word origins), please feel free to e-mail Pong.