The Path to Perfection

There is only one path to perfection and we are all called to be on it.

Matthew 5:48, NIV

One of the questions to which I responded when ordained as an elder within the United Methodist Church was this: Are you going on to perfection? One of the three theological strands that tied together the way of salvation for John Wesley is the idea of sanctification or holiness. Wesley believed that through the work of the Holy Spirit, God is reforming the human spirit into the image of Christ, the author and perfecter of the Christian faith (see Hebrews 12:2). C. S. Lewis once wrote:

“The command ‘Be ye perfect’ is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command
to do the impossible. [God] is going to make us into creatures that can obey
that command.…He meant what he said. Those who put themselves in His
hands will become perfect, as He is perfect—perfect in love, wisdom, joy,
beauty, and immortality.”

Our character matters to God. Yet given our human limitations, the ideal of Christian perfection can only be realized by each of us putting ourselves into God’s hands by way of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, worship, Holy Communion, as well as the reading and meditation of the Scriptures.

After almost thirty years of ministry, my wife can assure you that I am far from perfect. God has much more work to do. My primary job is to place my heart daily on the altar of God’s grace, so that the Great Physician can perform the surgery necessary to remove every unholy habit, thought, attitude, and action. God’s goal for me is that I do the kinds of spiritual activities that continue to move me along the trajectory of Christian perfection.

So, from where I stand today I can confidently reaffirm my initial response to the bishop: “Yes, by the grace of God.” As pastor, I now ask the same question of you. Are you going on to perfection?