I hope I’m not going crazy, but every once in a while I have these conversations with Jesus inside my head.
I try to keep them inside my head because I no longer work at home, and if I spoke my half of them out loud, my colleagues would think I was suffering from Elwood P. Dowd syndrome; chatting with an invisible six-foot white rabbit named Harvey, or worse.
One of those conversations went sort-of like this recently:
Me (reading Matthew 5:48 with my usual incredulity): “Lord, did you really say that? ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’?”
Jesus (grinning): “My sheep recognize my voice.”
Me: “I recognized Your voice; I just wasn’t sure about the words! Don’t you know that’s impossible?”
Jesus: “With God, all things are possible.”
Me: “But with me, they aren’t. I can’t be perfect.”
Jesus: “Look, I make all things new.”
Me: “Lord, ‘new’ isn’t ‘perfect.’ And it’s been a long time since You made me new. Why should I even try to be perfect, when I can’t?”
Jesus: “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
Me: “There You go, changing the subject on me again! Oh, wait. — I remember; You told that rich young guy to sell his stuff if he wanted to be perfect. I know You said it would help me lay up treasure in heaven. But if I do, what will I eat here? What will I wear? What will I drive?”
Jesus: “Your Father knows you need all these things. Look for His kingdom and His righteousness first, and He’ll give them to you.”
Me (a little whiny now): “All right; all right. If I sell some things and give, will that make me perfect?”
Jesus: “Only the Father in heaven is good.”
Me (really worked up now): “Okay. Okay, I can be good. I can try. But can’t I just ‘be,’ Lord? Do I always have to ‘do’?”
Jesus: “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for Me. Whatever you did not do for them, you did not do for Me.”
Me (despondent): “But I don’t know what to do! I try to do some things. I teach now and then. I blog. I write those ‘HeartWorship’ things for the church bulletin to encourage others; I try to build up my friends; my family; my kids ….”
Jesus: “Do you really, really love me?”
Me (a bit hurt): “I think I do. I know I do. YOU know I do. –Hey, isn’t that what Peter said?”
Jesus (smiling again): “I have found my lost sheep.”
Me (relieved): “Whew!”
Jesus (still smiling, but looking at me intently with one index finger raised): “Feed my sheep. Be perfect.”
Conversations with Jesus can be really frustrating. It’s like He’s talking in riddles, or circles.
Especially when I only hear what I want to hear.
10 thoughts on “Jesus, Harvey and Being Perfect”
You’re not crazy, I’ve totally had those conversations before (that probably doesn’t make you feel any better). I wish I was that way more often. That’s when things get real, and I’m so scared of things getting real. Thanks for pushing me.
Great way to make scripture come alive, I enjoyed that much.
I enjoyed it too, except for the part where you were stepping on my toes!! Oh yeah, it wasn’t you, it was Jesus!
So what is the proper application of these words of Jesus: “Go and sell all that you have……”?>>I have a family member who struggles with this to the point that he actually does this occasionally, to utter dismay of his wife. >>Granted, I think there is a lot more going on here than just following Christ’s words, but it is really hard to “explain” this passage.
Serena, there is a big difference between Jesus’ general advice in < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=12&verse=33&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">Luke 12:330<>to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” and his specific advice to the rich young ruler later in < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=49&chapter=18&verse=22&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">Luke 18:22<>. It’s the word “everything.”>>I think the rich young dude was so caught up in his < HREF="http://keithbrenton.blogspot.com/2004/10/discipleship-and-all-that-stuff.html" REL="nofollow">stuff<> that he couldn’t follow Jesus – at least until he got rid of it.>>I think the more generic advice is for folks who aren’t “stuff-addicted;” to encourage them to know the joy of sacrifice and sharing.>>Question for me is: Am I stuff-addicted?
This will probably surprise all of you, but I have lived long enough to truly believe Jesus’ admonition to “be perfect” is not some far-fetched, unattainable notion, but rather a very real human capability because I’ve seen it with my own eyes and have experienced it in another. >>Back in August 1996, we knew for sure, but not when, my dad was going to die. It turned out to be about a month longer that he lived. He was 72 and had been an elder in a couple of congregations the majority of his adult life, first in Abernathy, Texas and then at Palo Verde in Tucson, Arizona. >>Probably the most lasting and far reaching thing he ever did was as a young elder in Abernathy back in the mid-60s when the elders and Cline Paden made the decision to start a brand new work in Abernathy for young Hispanic men from New Mexico where they could come for a few weeks to study the Bible with area ministers (a “preacher’s” school, if you will) and then go back to their own communities to be “lay” ministers and Bible teachers on weekends and throughout the week.>>The elders and Cline Paden went to nearby Lubbock to talk with the elders of the Sunset congregation about getting some help with this small, but ambitious project and what resulted because of their energy and commitment to spreading the word was the beginning of Sunset School of Preaching. And, we all know what that led to and where it led – preacher’s schools world wide today, beginning with Sunset and before that, Abernathy.>>That was the kind of man my dad was his entire life, so that month before he died, my brother and sister and I got together to see what we could do to help him and my mom have ease in his journey from this life and her walk alone to follow.>>In talking about how different in some ways our dad had become within the last few months before then, we were amazed that all three of us had the same reaction and feelings. Everything that our dad was and had been was reduced to what we saw as his very “essence.” Nothing remained but pure love on his part. He was “finished” and “perfect.”>>I had to leave Abilene to go back home (temporarily, it turned out) to South Louisiana, and my dad didn’t want me to go, nor did I want to go because we didn’t know how long for sure he had left. But, I told him before I left that if he should live to be 110, he couldn’t possibly be any more perfect than he already was, and it was true. God had perfected him.>>You’re probably all thinking now – yeah, right, right – just the internal, emotional “feelings” of a daughter. But, I’m telling you, me and my brother and sister all saw it and experienced it, as did everyone who came in contact with him that last month before he died. It was extraordinary and a reality.>>I was blessed to be together with my mom and dad in their home as he died and it was the most incredible experience of my life. >>Yes – I DO think we can become perfect and BE perfect in this life because I’ve seen it and experienced it and it is a wondrous thing, indeed.
Keith,>>I agree with you 100%. I just hate to see people wrestling with this passage and putting their family members at risk because of their own extremism. >>But, then, it is not my job to fix everyone’s theology or emotional stuff. The hardest thing for me to do is to step back and allow God to work in this person’s life and on his heart.
Dee,>>Thanks for sharing this story about your dad. We all need these heroes and people of faith in our lives.
i love Harvey, but not as much as my 6 foot cat named Stanley…>>nice post Keith!
Thanks for challenging us in a loving way, brother! I missed being able to read your blog last week.>>In HIM,>DU