God is a Realist

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God is a Realist
Text: Matthew 5:48
Occasion: General
Audience: Adults
Theological Tradition: Wesleyan
Topic: Perfection, Holiness
Author: Brian M


God deals with the real world, what is really possible. And God says "be perfect".

How to Get There

Exodus 34:10-14 is a secondary passage, but dealt with first.

  • We often think that God is somehow issuing commands from heaven that are so idealistic and heavenly that they are impossible for us to fulfill.
  • We hear what God wants from us and think "yeah, in a perfect world, but surely not here." God must be giving us what He would like to see, not what he knows will happen in the real world.
  • But then we hit passages like this one in Exodus, horrible passages of killing people and we think surely this can't be God's perfect will, can it?
  • No, it isn't what God wants in an ideal world, no death is. But this passage shows us God works in the real world, with what is really possible.
  • The people of Israel were facing extinction, death in the desert. The people around were out for their heads and their goods.
  • So instead of issuing some ideal command that would get all of God's followers killed, God says to fight and make the area safe. It wasn't an ideal command, it was what had to happen in the real world for the people to live.
  • Divorce is another example. Jesus says in Matthew 19:8 that God let Moses allow divorce not because God wants divorce, but because God knew we are fallen and acted in the real world.
  • God does not give commands that can't be accomplished, or are only impossible ideals, but real commands that are not only possible, but needed in the real world.
  • And yet God says "be perfect." That means this isn't some ideal that we can never reach. This is possible, and this is in fact essential, right here in the real world.
  • God would not have told us to do it if it wasn't possible, and if it wasn't necessary for what God wants from us. So if we aren't there we are missing something, and we have no excuse. It is possible. God lives and acts and commands in the real world, in real people's lives, ours.

Things to Watch For

The secondary passage from Exodus is one of the hardest passages in the Bible. Be very careful with what you say. This passage strikes of God ordained genocide to many people and can be very difficult to hear. This message tries to paint this passage as a necessity for the survival of the Israelites.

You will also need to define perfection and what perfection looks like in a Christian's life or this message will leave people with no where to go but a feeling they need to be doing something.

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