In Brian McLaren’s book “The Secret Message of Jesus”, he comments on Matthew 5 verses 43-48 where Jesus teaches His most radical and difficult subject, about loving our enemies, and Jesus ends with, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
He comments – “ This is one of the most powerful – yet misunderstood – passages in biblical literature, misunderstood largely because people neglect Jesus’ larger-scale strategy in this whole sermon. They assume that “Be Perfect” means “Achieve external technical perfection.” In context, though, it’s abundantly clear that Jesus means something poles apart from external technical perfection.
The kingdom of God calls you to a higher way of living. It’s not just about loving friends and hating enemies. It’s about loving your enemies. This is what the King does, so this is the way of the Kingdom. God is good to all – including evil people. God’s perfection is a compassionate perfection. That’s the kind of love you need to have in God’s kingdom – a compassionate perfection that transcends old divisions of us/them and neighbor/enemy, that loves those who do not yet love you. We will never reach universal reconciliation in the kingdom of God until we move beyond conventional religious morality and believe in and practice this radical, higher plan.
The parallel passage in Luke 6:36 substitutes the word “merciful” for “perfect,” strongly reinforcing this reading.”
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