“Be ye therefore perfect”
The Bible shows us that God is the source and basis of all perfection.
Jesus told us, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But . . . perfection? Is that even remotely possible to attain?
When we look at the world today and also examine our own lives, things may look very far from perfect. Yet, every day we’re also aware of examples of very refined achievement. We board airplanes engineered according to the laws of aerodynamics regarding lift and thrust. We drive over bridges designed and built according to strict architectural precepts. In another aspect of aspiring to high standards, many aim to express honesty, fairness, wisdom, and genuine care in interactions with others. But whatever the arena of life, it’s vital for humanity to strive toward, and ultimately adopt, the only true, perfect model of thought and action—one that flows from the ever-dependable intelligence that is divine Principle, God.
The Bible shows us that God is the source and basis of all perfection. For example, the book of Genesis establishes that man is created in God’s image and likeness, which means that each of us is fashioned from a model of complete perfection. Our role is to open our thought to understand this fact and accept how God has created us: spiritually perfect—good, intelligent, whole, and loving. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote in her work Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “God is the creator of man, and, the divine Principle of man remaining perfect, the divine idea or reflection, man, remains perfect. Man is the expression of God’s being” (p. 470).
So, what are we to make of all the imperfection that confronts us every day—faulty bodies, discordant relationships, dysfunctional projects, stalled progress, and so on? If we presume that the model—God—is in fact perfect, but that there is imperfection in what should be the expression of that model, then the problem must lie in our perceiving and accepting a different, faulty model.
Science and Health again sets forth the standard, the right basis: “The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea,—perfect God and perfect man,—as the basis of thought and demonstration” (p. 259). It explains the importance of using the lens of spiritual sense—described here as “Christlike understanding”—to accurately view our experience. In so doing, we base our thoughts and actions on the dependable, perfect, divine reality of God’s creation as opposed to a flawed material perspective or model.
When we hit a wrong musical note, we do not think the science of music has changed. We trust the consistency of musical principles and correct our misapplication of them in order to play the piece accurately. In our daily lives, rather than dwell on other types of “wrong notes,” it is helpful to turn our thinking to what is truly perfect—the underlying divine Principle—and keep thought centered on that reality, which is the truth of our being.
A conscious acknowledgment of our inherent oneness with God and His qualities aligns our thoughts and efforts with God’s flawless creation.
Christ Jesus was the most effective healer the world has ever seen, because he perceived so clearly the identity of man as God’s offspring, the spiritual expression of God’s being, rather than a suffering, misguided mortal. Jesus was so clear that man’s real identity includes perfect health and character that he was able to heal disease and ungodlike traits and overcome death.
Relying on the same divine Principle, we can today heal ourselves and others by holding in thought the perfect model of being. Correct conclusions must logically proceed from an accurate premise. A primary basis of illness or dysfunction lies in accepting a model of man as a vulnerable, material mortal, whereas the true nature of each one of us is the spiritual expression of God’s being. For example, perfect health is, in reality, ours continually because we reflect God’s perfection.
This has been proved in my family. For instance, during a two-week visit to our home, our daughter-in-law had what appeared to be a large cyst on her foot. One night, our family sat together talking, and as our daughter-in-law shared a story, my wife had an exceptionally strong sense of the purely spiritual nature of our daughter-in-law’s being. Beholding the perfect image of God expressed in our daughter-in-law left no room for a false, imperfect image. By the next morning the cyst had dissolved. My wife had not been specifically praying to heal the cyst, but over the course of that visit had been praying to see the perfection of every family member. This healing was the natural and prompt outcome of beholding God’s perfect creation, man.
Must we be discouraged if our bodies, jobs, relationships, etc. are less than perfect? The framework of perfect God creating and maintaining man as His perfect expression is unaffected by any imperfection we see or feel through the material senses. While we may be tempted to accept our own and others’ challenges as real and unavoidable, a conscious acknowledgment of our inherent oneness with God and His qualities aligns our thoughts and efforts with God’s flawless creation.
Rather than a call to some unattainable goal, Jesus’ command to “be ye therefore perfect” can be understood as an admonition to acknowledge our present reality as created by God. Understanding and accepting that reality plants our lives on a sure foundation, and our experience will naturally express more of the good—the perfect good—that underlies all creation.