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Rev. Jef­frey H. Pet­ten of­fers this week’s study of The Bi­ble

In Matthew 5:38-48 we hear about turn­ing the other cheek when we are of­fended by peo­ple. We are given the recipe for liv­ing a good life that is whole­some in the King­dom of God. Some could say that Je­sus gives a tall or­der to live up to, es­pe­cially; when we hear those words, “be pre­fect, just as your heav­enly father is per­fect.

Pre­fect. Well if we have to be pre­fect, I do not think that we will live long. If we look at the cru­ci­fix we see what hu­man­ity can do to per­fect peo­ple. In do­ing some back­ground read­ing, I have come to the re­al­iza­tion that the word “pre­fect” might be the in­cor­rect word to use in gain­ing the essence of what Je­sus is teach­ing. The word that we should use is “whole.” Be whole just as your heav­enly father is whole. In essence what Je­sus is say­ing is that we are to have a whole­some re­la­tion­ship with God and with one an­other and; it has to be within the con­text of love. Je­sus is not say­ing we got to like each other; Je­sus is say­ing we have to love each other.

So who is per­fect? Who here has never made a mis­take or for­got­ten to do some­thing? That is why Je­sus says be whole. We can take that word whole and change it into some­thing else. We can change that word from whole to holy. In both the Book of Leviti­cus and in the 1st Let­ter of St. Peter we hear these words ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’

This is what the King­dom of God is all about. The King­dom of God is about mak­ing the dream of God a re­al­ity among us. The King­dom of God is about turn­ing ev­ery­thing that is wrong with the Church, the world and our­selves into some­thing that is for a good pur­pose. Imag­ine if we did what Je­sus says not to do. Half of us would be walk­ing around with one eye or no eyes. The other half of us would be walk­ing around with bro­ken arms and maimed bod­ies. In re­al­ity is get­ting re­venge with those who have done some­thing to us worth it? No be­cause the king­dom of God is not about re­venge, the King­dom of God is about liv­ing whole­some – liv­ing holy. Is it our hu­man na­ture to see re­venge yet; what Je­sus is point­ing out is that we are to take the high road. It may be painful to do but; it is a lot bet­ter than loos­ing eyes. It goes to show that there is truth in the say­ing: “to err is to be hu­man, to for­give is divine.”

So how are we liv­ing holy lives? How are we liv­ing whole­some lives? Are we mak­ing the king­dom of God a re­al­ity here and now or are we too con­cen­trated on how the King­dom of God will be in the fu­ture. Dal­las Wil­lard states it best in say­ing: “The Gospel is less about how you get into the King­dom of God af­ter you die, and more about how you live the King­dom of God be­fore you die.” Point­ing to the whole­some life – the holy life in which we are called to live. Af­ter all part of the Church’s prayer is “Your king­dom come, Your will be done…” Where????? “On earth as in heaven.” Here and now as well as in the fu­ture.

Make the im­pact of a whole­some life with God to­day. So…. be per­fect. The Rev. Jef­frey H. Pet­ten, B.A., M.Div.

Rev. Jef­frey H. Pet­ten, B.A., M.Div.

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