Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Houston, we have a problem! Does God expect me to be perfect, blameless, without fault, in my own strength? Should I expect myself to be that way? I have to admit, this verse could be very troubling were I to make those assumptions. The word used in this verse means complete, whole, not the way the language would lead me to think. See, I often struggle with something completely unrelated with this verse: perfectionism. Perfectionism is the SWORN enemy of contentment because reality has a way of trumping the notion altogether. You cannot be happy, content, or glad when you expect things to be perfect all the time...they just aren't perfect.
Case in point: Last week some time, I cooked a dish from Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way called Sesame Shrimp. It was basically a shrimp stir fry with green beans. It was an "eight thumbs down" dish. None of us really liked it. Now, my tendency in this situation has been to be a little miffed that my family is so picky. Honestly, though, the recipe was not spectacular. I'll post the regular details later, but there is something that I need to point out here--a turn in my thinking. It was not a reflection of my cooking that the family didn't like the dinner I prepared. It was a function of the recipe itself. Setting my hopes on the world being perfect is setting myself up for MAJOR disappointment! How in the world can anyone survive with such an unrealistic view of life? It's really difficult, lemme tell you. You end up frustrated just nearly all the time. You can never really be happy. That makes sense, well enough, but why do I continue to cling to this delusion? Isn't it "optimisitic" to assume things will go well?
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4:12
Here's proof right here..right in the black and white. Still one would think that I'd get it from life experience that it's NORMAL to struggle...NORMAL to have troubles, in fact, what I should be considering ABNORMAL is the absence of pressure, pain, and heartache.
Now, I'm gonna share about something that was illuminated this morning to me as I sat in Sunday School. Something was lacking in my 'religious experience' for many years and probably in my formative years as a believer, there was a lack of experience with people who had troubles so critical that it was, "Sink, Swim, Live, or Die" situations where one would be sunk if God didn't show up. Many people I was connected with in my early spiritual life never really NEEDED Jesus to SHOW UP...they had their bank account, their friends with connections, their own connections, their own ways of handling things, so they really had no testimony of God's power coming through at the right moment for them. Sure, there were the prayer requests for every number of things, but I don't recall a sense of expectancy or anticipation that the things prayed about were really gonna be answered...it was a kind of "prayer's a good thing for YOU because it opposes pride or some other such nonsense" I mean, what's the use of praying if God's not gonna do anything about it? I can't really fault 'em though, maybe they never met too many radical folks in their days either.
What this brings me to is this: Expecting life to be perfect makes no sense in view of reality. Knowing that I am not alone and that I have an omnipotent Help whenever things go south leads to a peace that is contentment for His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3, because of this, I know I can make it to the finish line, content.