Living a spiritual life challenges you every day, every moment of everyday. On the one hand it’s very exciting, but on the other, it means stop being so human and start being perfect. What?

No, even a person who lives spiritually, resisting the temptation of religious ways, cannot be perfect on earth. Or can they?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust. If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48 God’s Word).

Two big things here. One, perfection follows an nearly impossible human behaviour; love the way God loves, unconditionally and with a compassion so deep one looks beyond faults and truly sees need.

The second thing is the Greek word used here usually means mature (or in general terms, complete) in the New Testament. This carries a special meaning not found in secular Greek. So what if Jesus simply means, “Grow up! Stop acting like a spoiled brat who doesn’t like when you aren’t the centre of attention and getting only positive strokes.” What if Jesus means be “completely” like God, not just superficially or religiously.

Does it matter?

Really, it’s hard enough to deal with the first part of Jesus’ words; don’t get stuck on the second part.

Do you actually pray for your enemies, the ones who stab you in the back, humiliate you in public, gossip about you and undermine your good work?

Statue of Jesus Christ on the cross

Wow, that’s so tough only, well, yes, I’m sure, only God can do that. So let God do it!

Stop pouting over hurt feelings, even your tears. Pray for those who act like the devil because that probably means that’s who they pledge loyalty to and if they pledge loyalty to the devil it probably means they won’t go to heaven and are missing out on the wondrous peace and joy of living with Jesus here in this life and…

I only know that if I wallow in my upset I can’t pray honestly for the people who shoved me down into that pit where it’s so easy to find self-pity. But if I look at Jesus on the cross, bleeding and dying and FORGIVING the brutalisers, well, that makes a difference.

Try it.

Oh, by the way, would you pray for me to be “perfect” more often so I can pray for my enemies more often?