CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter
I have been thinking about perfection, because at my ordination I pledged to go on to perfection, saying “Yes,” to the question, “Do you expect to be made perfect in this life?” since if you say “no” you don’t get ordained and never make the big bucks. I’m sort of running out of time to get to perfection in this life, though, so I think I need to hurry up the process.
Actually, I don’t know why preachers need to be perfect. Perfection is not very realistic. Not because it’s not attainable, but because there are always some folks in any church for whom perfection in the preacher is not good enough.
It is important to remember that when John Wesley developed the doctrine of Christian Perfection, and started asking the Methodist preachers that question about being made perfect in this life, way back in the 1700s, he was not talking about intellectual perfection—knowing perfectly, or volitional perfection—choosing perfectly, or activity perfection—doing perfectly, but loving perfectly.
So what is love, that we might do it perfectly? Love is desiring that God’s will be done. That means that when I pray for Donald Trump, I do not pray that he will change, but that God’s will may be done in his life. I don’t get to say what God’s will is for Donald, or for me, or for anyone else. I do, however, have the great privilege of praying for him, along with all the others God presents to me along the way.
My much-missed friend, Herb Beuoy, now loving as part of the church triumphant, always reminded me, “It is our business to love people; it is God’s business to change them.”
Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” That is to will the will of God, to will what God wants for each person and for each world.
So, do I really expect “to be made perfect in this life?” Be patient. I’m working on it.
I tweet as yooper1721.