Arlington Adventist Church

713 N Talcott St
Arlington, WA, 98223-1034



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September Letter
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Have you been spending some of your summer days in worship and praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I trust that your view of Jesus has been enhanced as you have spent time in meditation and praise and as you have listened to God’s speak to you through His Word. During one of Jesus’ outdoor church services (I trust that it was a sunny day) He made a statement that is often misunderstood. Here it is as Matthew records it for us:

 

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:48

 

Last week Felix Hernandez, the number one pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, pitched a perfect game. What that means is not only did he NOT give up a hit or walk, nobody reached base – the WHOLE GAME!!! No errors by Seattle players! A perfect game! Twenty-seven up to bat . . . and twenty-seven down (and out!) It was only the 23rd time in Major League Baseball history that it has happened. That means that with over 5,000 games each year and with over one hundred years of baseball history, it is a very low percentage (like one out of every 30,000 games!) And of course with all the media sources most sports fans have heard about Mr. Hernandez’ feat! Plays that made a huge difference in the game have been played over and over again! People have talked about the game and shared where they were while they were listening or watching the game. Others refused to listen to the game thinking they might jinx the performances of the players. (I was sitting in a Pastor’s Meeting – bored!! – and watching the updates on my phone!!)

Now the Bible says that no one is perfect – no not one. Why then, would Jesus tell us to be perfect “as your heavenly Father is perfect?” Well, simply put – “perfect” in the Bible may not mean what we think of as “perfect.” In the context of what Jesus is ‘preaching’ about we need to re-evaluate what we have interpreted to mean as perfect. Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a question about the level of perfection God is at! Perhaps all interpretations and definitions of “perfect” – God would meet the criteria! Back to the context of this passage. Jesus has been talking about ‘loving your neighbor’ and ‘loving your enemies.’ And then in the very next verse after chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus talks about ‘being careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.’ So Jesus is not talking about being perfect (carefully viewing all our actions to make sure they are perfect). He is talking about ‘loving our enemies’ and not being hypocritical. What you do – needs to be done in secret (if you want to talk about actions) And if you say you are loving – and all you are doing is loving those who love you . . . well, then, you might be hypocritical!

So, being perfect is much more than actions. . . it is loving perfectly. And of course none of us could ever question whether or not God loves His enemies. And no question about whether God is hypocritical! And when we figure out what ‘perfect’ means in our lives, our prayer life will be more enjoyable and rewarding as we talk with our Creator. (Which is the next part of Jesus’ outdoor sermon.

What I found interesting about Felix Hernandez – and his ‘perfect’ game – He would admit he made a few mistakes during the course of the game . . . His defenders just made great plays to cover up those mistakes. And after his next game that he pitched, a week later, he actually said he pitched better – even though he gave up seven hits and one run! “Perfect” just doesn’t mean “perfect.” God expects “more” – and that is LOVE.

Your Pastor and friend:

Doug Sharp

 

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