Perfection, Human or Divine?

`BE ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'' How many times I've read this in Matthew's Gospel with a little sigh! I felt I could ``do my best'' with Christ Jesus' counsel, but the idea of perfection seemed elusive. Until one day I thought about the rest of the verse, ``Even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect'' (5:48).

Then I began to think. What kind of perfection are we talking about in reference to God? The words your Father gave me the clue. Throughout the New Testament, God is referred to as the Father of man. The study of Christian Science has shown me that man is created in God's image and likeness. Christ Jesus showed us that God is Spirit, whose actual creation is wholly spiritual. And our Master also demonstrated that man, God's image, must be a spiritual being, like his creator. This spiritual man therefore must be perfect, like his creator.

Jesus' admonition to be perfect as the Father has to do with knowing God and His universe as wholly spiritual. To do this means that we need to refuse to accept ungodlike thoughts such as revenge and hate and strive to express our genuine, God-given qualities, such as love, forgiveness, and wisdom. As this goodness is reflected in our lives, it brings healing. The Bible, especially in the New Testament, provides guidelines for directing our thought as we align ourselves with divine perfection, the all-power of God's infinite goodness. Through our prayer and study, we see more of spiritual reality and divine harmony. Matter loses its importance as we see its unreality and begin to understand the universe of Spirit. Sickness and sin are healed when we perceive the actual perfection of God and His creation, including man.

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The desire to do right, to love, to be wise, are qualities of God hinting at our real, spiritual identity. Jesus came to illustrate and uncover these Godlike attributes, to demonstrate man's godliness. The real man is the reflection of God, divine Love, listening to and obeying only Him. Our obedience takes place in our prayer and action. To love the way Jesus did, for example, is to love divinely, without reservation. As we strive to see ourselves, our friends, even our so-called enemies, as God's own image and likeness, the power of divine Love comes into its own to show us good everywhere.

This perception of God's goodness all around us translates into better daily work, with less struggle over details. We realize how sensible it is to follow Paul's advice in his first letter to the Corinthians: ``Do all to the glory of God''! (10:31).

Well then, what about evil in our lives? This could never have come from God, so it can never be part of us or anyone else. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, faced this same question. Years of prayer and inspiration opened her thought to the revelation of divine Science recorded in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which now provides us with a practical understanding of the allness of God and the falsity, the nothingness, of evil. Jesus described the devil as a liar, and Mrs. Eddy, following his incomparable example, dealt with evil in just this way. She explains in Science and Health, ``The maximum of good is the infinite God and His idea, the All-in-all. Evil is a suppositional lie'' (p. 103). Elsewhere in the same book she writes, ``Perfection is gained only by perfection'' (p. 290). We need to--and we can--see and be God's child, reflecting the perfection of our creator. God, good, is indeed the only power and presence in His universe. The conscious recognition that God's man reflects this perfect goodness leads to healing as Jesus practiced it.

We are spiritually perfect now, even as our Father is. To realize this great truth takes much humility and spiritual work in the face of the argument that says evil is real and powerful! But persistent, prayerful study of the Bible and of Science and Health leads to a wonderful, healing, working knowledge of God and man in daily life.

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