At first glance, this feels like an impossible standard, a lifeless decree, something way too lofty to achieve. It is the reason that some people take a longing look at Christianity and then go their own way — because their first impression is that they won’t be able to measure up and they don’t want to just pretend. They don’t want to be hypocrites.
This leads us to a legitimate concern. If we as Christian parents believe that perfection is Jesus’ goal for us and we don’t believe we can measure up, then how can we expect it of our children?
Simply stated — we can’t! And we shouldn’t! Why? Because Jesus’ teaching did not stop there.
True. Our role model is God the Father. His perfect character is what we are after. Behaving like him is indeed our lifetime goal. But how can we achieve it?
Fortunately, Jesus answered this question with these words, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
So, two seemingly opposite teachings about perfection and ease are bound together with one word — the simple invitation of Jesus to “come.”
But how, where, when?
At that moment in time when you realize Jesus died for you and you want to respond in full commitment to him? Yes — “Come!”
In the daily routine of opening your Bible and learning about God and his ways? Yes — “Come!”
By serving others through acts of kindness as the hands and feet of Jesus? Yes — “Come!”
In your moment by moment prayers of: “Wow — I just pleased God in the way I behaved! Thank you Father.” or “Drat — I just blew it! Please forgive me Father.”? Yes — “Come!”
So then transformed lives are the key — those open, teachable hearts that grab hold of God’s character one step at a time by responding to the ongoing personal invitation of Jesus to “come!”
This is the key to Jesus’ teaching about being perfect. This is the balance parents need to model and teach to their onlooking children.
“Come learn from me. I am here for you. Don’t be afraid. With each step of faith, I will make you become what you cannot become on your own. Just come.”
(A Word to Parents: Remember that faith is gently formed in children through years of “coming.” Don’t force a full commitment on children before they are personally ready. Rather, lay solid, age-appropriate faith foundations in the lives of your young children, so that in God’s timetable they will respond to him with declared faith. After all, God’s goal is full-term spiritual birth — premature spiritual birth is always in danger of not making it.)
Enjoy God forever,
Susan Case Bonner
June 8, 2015