Jun 16, 2020 (Tuesday) - Only Human? - A Reflection on Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

One of the things that I often hear people say, especially when they are trying to justify their sinfulness is: “Oh, what can I do? I’m only human.” You ever done that? What does that mean to say we are ONLY human? That we are pathetic, miserable, useless creatures who cannot help but sin? Is that what we are? So, tell me then, if God says he created us in his own image and likeness, then is that what he is: a pathetic, miserable, useless creature? Do you see where I am going with this? Okay, I know this is going to be a MAJOR paradigm shift for many, so please follow my arguments carefully.

God is pure, holy, and perfect. Do you agree? Good. God created us in his own imagine and likeness. I just said that. Do you agree? You have to; it’s in Scripture. See Genesis 1:25-26. So, if God is pure, holy, and perfect, and we are created in his image and likeness, then we are created to be pure, holy, and perfect. Do you agree? Again, you have to, because these are the rules of logic. If a > b, and b > c, then a > c. As we have seen in past weeks, the rules of logic hold good for spiritual truths as much as for scientific truths.

However, to ensure that there is Scriptural backing for this, consider what the Bible says about all three.  John tells us to purify ourselves as God is pure. Thats 1 John 3:3. Peter tells us to be holy as God is holy. That’s 1 Peter 1:15-16. And, as we saw in today’s passage, Jesus himself tells us to be perfect as God is perfect. That’s Matthew 5:48. Pure. Holy. Perfect. That’s what it means to be “HUMAN”. Ok, so now that this is established, let us look at the question that automatically follows: if this is what it is to be human, why are we not?

Three reasons. One, we have believed in the wrong premise, that being human means being weak. Remember what I said a few days ago about how, if our starting premise is wrong, everything that follows will be wrong? (See ‘Getting it Right’ https://youtu.be/eodFYEHpyyk). Two, we like to take the path of least resistance. Consider climbing up and down a hill. Which do you prefer? Ditto for life. We generally like to take the easy way. And three, we rely on our own strength and wisdom. We are doomed to fail.

So how do we get it right? One, let’s get the premise right: being human is to be pure, holy, and perfect. Two, let’s not be afraid of what seems difficult. Three, let us rely on the grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to get things done. I will leave you with a few more words from Peter. He said (I paraphrase): “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). I know it seems like a long, arduous journey, but you know what they say about long journeys. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Let us take a couple of steps today.