True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
Chapter 19M – Does Perfection Cause Others to Feel the Power of Our Words and Prayers?
(Wesley's writings are in bold)
In A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, the next conference-generated question that John Wesley discusses deals not so much with a person’s state of perfection as it does with the state of perfection of an individual observing such a person.
Wesley’s answer, unlike most of his previous ones at this conference, goes directly to the root of the problem: the questioner’s lack of perfect love.
"Question. But is not this a proof against him — I feel no power either in his words or prayer?
"Answer. It is not; for perhaps that is your own fault. You are not likely to feel any power therein, if any of these hindrances lie in the way:
(1) Your own deadness of soul. The dead Pharisees felt no power even in His words who 'spake as never man spake.'
(2) The guilt of some unrepented sin lying upon the conscience.
(3) Prejudice toward him of any kind.
(4) Your not believing that state to be attainable wherein he professes to be.
(5) Unreadiness to think or own he has attained it.
(6) Overvaluing or idolizing him.
(7) Overvaluing yourself and your own judgment.
If any of these is the case, what wonder is it that you feel no power in anything he says? But do not others feel it? If they do, your argument falls to the ground. And if they do not, do none of these hindrances lie in their way too? You must be certain of this before you can build any argument thereon; and even then your argument will prove no more than that grace and gifts do not always go together.
" 'But he does not come up to my idea of a perfect Christian.' And perhaps no one ever did, or ever will. For your idea may go beyond, or, at least, beside, the scriptural account. It may include more than the Bible includes therein, or, however, something which that does not include. Scripture perfection is pure love filling the heart and governing all the words and actions. If your idea includes anything more or anything else, it is not scriptural; and then no wonder that a scripturally perfect Christian does not come up to it.
"I fear many stumble on this stumbling-block. They include as many ingredients as they please, not according to Scripture, but their own imagination, in their idea of one that is perfect; and then readily deny anyone to be such who does not answer that imaginary idea.
"The more care should we take to keep the simple, scriptural account continually in our eye. Pure love reigning alone in the heart and life — this is the whole of scriptural perfection.
The greatest stumbling block to Christian perfection that I have encountered within the Church is over the issue of compassion for animals and its extension – compassion for the whole of creation. Instead of seeing truly compassionate people as raising the bar of unconditional love leading to Christian perfection, most often these compassionate people are ridiculed and made to feel uncomfortable in the very Church whose Lord told them to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
Unfortunately, many of these loving and compassionate Christians end up leaving the Church and worshiping God on their own, because they are made to feel so uncomfortable in their churches. We hear from these people almost every day, as they are usually quite saddened by the turn of events.
To complicate the problem, what is left behind in the church is "dead Phariseeism" with its inherent limited, or selective, love and compassion.
The Church will never truly understand Christian perfection until it learns to look beyond their dogmatic doctrines and man-made teachings that justify any form of hardness of heart and that limit God’s love.
The greatest of all commandments and the simplest of common denominators is centered in love. We are to love God unconditionally (Deuteronomy 6:5). If we truly do this, we will also love the whole of His creation, which includes our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18), all other humans including our enemies (Matthew 5:44-45), the animals, and the physical world. As Paul reminds us, "love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8).
We will feel the power of Christian perfection when we seek to surround ourselves with unconditional and unselfish love. We will see the loving compassionate acts of others, no matter where they are directed, as being of God, and our hearts will be warmed. And, in that warmth we will encourage and support each other to even greater works (John 14:12). We will also see true peacemakers as children of God (Matthew 5:9) and seek to become one ourselves.
The prophet Isaiah reached out in the Spirit of God and saw the perfection of God reestablished in the Peaceable Kingdom, and he wrote (Isaiah 11:6-9 NASV):
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the kid,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze;
Their young will lie down together;
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
© 2001-2004 - The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation. All rights reserved. May be copied only for personal use or by not for profit organizations to promote compassionate and responsible living. All copied and reprinted material must contain proper credits and web site link www.all-creatures.org .
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