Majority of people do not really take this statement seriously. Why? Perhaps, because majority of people rarely take the words of God seriously enough. When we are reminded of Paul’s pleas for believers to be “one in mind and spirit”, our response is: “That’s impossible!” And when we are told that the Kingdom of God exists in perfection, we shake our heads and present the diversity of beliefs in the Christian world as the nearest we can get to the ideal of unity often seen only by visionaries.
And yet, the truth still remains: God is perfect and we were created in His image and He wants to mold us into His image. It follows that we should be perfectly devoted to other believers, such that we are truly and tightly united as children of God. The fact that we are not is a measure of our own unbelief and lack of desire and diligence to work out the command to love one another. Lastly, whether we believe that the Kingdom of God exists in perfection or not does not change the fact that it is truly perfect and that it does exist. Why?
Here are some reasons:
First, Christ prayed in the Garden “not for the world but for those whom God had given” (highlighting provided) Him (that is, Christ) to be His disciples. Was He referring only to the Apostles? That would be belittling the power of God and denying the full intent of His ministry of salvation for all humans. The whole point of Jesus’ prayer is that God established the Kingdom and filled it with people He Himself chose or qualified to be part of the Kingdom. And so, not one of the barbarians or emperors who pretended to become part of the new official “Roman religion” began by Constantine while remaining attached to their pagan beliefs and practices was “chosen” by God. They were chosen by a religion, its hierarchy, its peculiar ordinances and rules – not by the genuine decrees of God, as revealed through the Apostles. And that is still the case until now. We choose a religion or a denomination and we are chosen likewise or accepted as a member of that sect. If that is the way God chooses us, then we follow a different Gospel.
The world had effectively borrowed and distorted the word of God to suit its selfish and corrupt ways. Only those who understood the Gospel and obeyed in their conscience the essential teachings of Christ and lived their lives by those divine principles were called out by God and eventually “chosen” by Him to become part of His Kingdom – hence, the name ekklesia (the called-out). And when you are already called out and “added to the Kingdom”, you cease to be called-out. You become a citizen of the Kingdom of God – accepted both by the Father and the Son. Those who continue to label themselves the called-out (the “ekklesia” or “church”) are a giant step too far from the Kingdom.
That was the great question of Jesus’ time: How shall I enter the Kingdom? How can I be saved? The answer was one and the same: Believe in Christ. Follow Jesus. Come to God. Hear His words. What Christ speaks comes from God. Just listen and do what He tells you. Anyone who hears and obeys Him, hears and obeys God.
What the Father did and said, Jesus also did and spoke. That is what Jesus meant with: I have received those whom you have given me. When He spoke the Father’s words and people believed Him, it was the Father Who gave power to His words, saving people in the process. When Jesus performed miracles and people worshiped Him, it was the Father Who enabled Jesus to perform signs, convincing people that He was truly from God.
That was how Jesus attained perfection. Faith is perfected through obedience. We may believe in everything the Bible contains; but if we do not obey what it requires of us, we are not perfected. If we do not even believe we can be perfect; how can we start believing properly and obeying accordingly?
Second, the process of perfecting humans is not done through religion or fulfilling ordinances of ritualistic demands invented by modern priests. It is the Holy Spirit Who provides the sanctifying or completing ability in each individual. Remember, the Holy Spirit is not within the control or under the dictates of any person or organization. In fact, the first step to relishing true freedom in Christ is to give up all ordinances given by human teachers and then devoting one’s life to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He is given to the individual to teach him or her to submit to God’s rule on a continuing basis – from waking up to sleeping again, from eating in the morning to washing the dishes at night and from our first step outside the house to the last step before we lie down in bed. And if we please, from the time we humbly submit our life to the unconditional love and rule of God to the time we shall have received the crown of life in the end.
In short, a living sacrifice is no different from the dead sacrifices offered by the Jews – pure and unblemished one-year-old calf, lamb or kid. A perfectly clean and clear conscience guiding every step, every thought and every deed that we take, think and make. The person who can do this and not commit a single sin is what John called a true child of God. A perfect child of a perfect Father. Zero sin! Only the Holy Spirit, guiding us daily and continuously, can do that for us.
Is this another wishful thinking by another entranced visionary? That brings us to the third reason.
John wrote his letters earnestly trying to prove what we are also trying to prove here: That we can attain perfect love and that, necessarily, we can also attain perfection. All we need is love, so he says. Anyone who loves is born of God – meaning, he or she is as “perfect in love” as God. And, conversely, anyone who hates is not of or not born of God – that is, God’s fullness does not abide with that person. (I John 2:3-11) Claiming we become “as perfect as God” is short of blasphemy. But we can be perfect and perfected in love, if we follow the example of Christ and the Apostles. (I John 4:7-21)
What kind of love is John really talking about that he strongly believes we can also attain in our lives? Otherwise, he was writing like a physicist describing a theoretical universe that exists only in the mind.
Perhaps, the Kingdom of God is an illusion we hold on to in order to maintain our allegiance to an inscrutable God Himself. We believe because we cannot afford not to. We obey because not to do so is in itself shameful. If so, such kind of faith cannot be perfect, for it takes away our freedom, our free will to choose. Adam and Eve were never forced to obey. They chose to act autonomously. Yes, they were punished for their own act of choosing to disobey God.
Disobedience deserves punishment. Imperfection is not an option to God. His Creation was good and perfect. Why should He tolerate evil and imperfection? Is He not God? So, why should we also prefer to be evil and imperfect when He made us good and perfect? We are His children; He cannot have evil and imperfect children. Only bastards would think so!
The example of Jesus Christ living an obedient and perfect life as the Son of God is sufficient for us to know and understand what God demands from us. The story has been told, the message has been proclaimed, the movie has been shown and the book has been published. We no longer have any excuse.
And so, the Kingdom is a haven for God’s children born by faith. The process of birth into God’s Kingdom is all there in the Book of Truth, if we care to find out what it is. If you want to become perfect, listen to Jesus. Otherwise, remain being imperfect in your imperfect world. Remain unborn and outside the Kingdom of God. Remain dead in your sins.
Why would anyone choose to be imperfect if we can be perfect as the Father in Heaven. The choice is simple.
(Painting above: Courtesy of www.pinterest.com)