Cornerstone

“For Paul, the pursuit of perfection was not a list of do’s or don’ts. It was not even doing everything right. Perfection was not solving all problems or having all the answers to life’s dilemmas. Rather, it was connected to knowing Christ Jesus.”

Humanity’s quest has always been the pursuit of perfection. We all want to be perfect, or at least make life on this messy earth a little easier. But if we think that life would be easier if we were to be perfect, it is good to be reminded that Jesus was perfect, yet life continued to be difficult, even for Him.

So what does perfection mean for the Christian? Is it always making the right choices? Is it living a life completely free of sin? While those things are good and true, it seems that the apostle Paul believed that Christian perfection encompasses much more than that.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Phil. 3:12)”

Paul is talking about pursuing something in his life. And whatever he is pursuing, he is equating it with becoming perfect, once it is attained. It seems that the thing he is following after will make him perfect as well. Paul is telling us that he is not only striving to obtain this thing, but that he is intending to make it his own. Paul wanted to be perfect!

So, the question is, what is this thing that can be obtained and can be made ours? What is this thing that can make us perfect? The answer is found a few verses before, in verse 8 of Philippians, which says: 

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

For Paul, the pursuit of perfection was not a list of do’s or don’ts. It was not even doing everything right. Perfection was not solving all problems or having all the answers to life’s dilemmas. Rather, it was connected to knowing Christ Jesus. In fact, what Paul is saying here is that what makes us perfect is “knowing Christ Jesus,”and knowing him forever. Even eternal life was redefined for us not in a temporal sense, but in a relational way (John 17:3). 

Accordingly, Paul wanted to know every aspect of Jesus’s life. He even wanted to experience His sufferings so that he could know Christ Jesus even in the midst of sorrow. This kind of thinking reorients our minds to the one goal of life - to know Him! Whatever difficulties life throws at us, we can begin to see that even the hardships of daily life will become opportunities to know Him. Life lived in this way is the mechanism by which we continue to have daily glimpses of Christ Jesus. As we struggle to live godly lives, we will be reminded that it was hard for Him, too. As one pauses to reflect on how extremely hard it was for Jesus to live here on this earth, one may be able to see that He still chose to live here among us, and even die for us so that we could be his own.

I want to encourage you to look for Him in the midst of putting out the fires of daily life. In fact, He is well known for using the difficulties in life to show Himself to us. Sometimes hardships have the capacity to slow us down enough so that we can know Him a little more. The more we know Him, the more we will love Him. And the more we love Him, the more He will be glorified and enjoyed by us, which is, after all, the goal of life.

José González

José serves Cornerstone by overseeing the Spanish language ministry “Nueva Vida Ministerios”.

Additional articles that might be of interest.