Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jesus was perfect, but I'm not

This one may be a bit contoversial. I don't know. I've never brought this thought up before and I haven't really heard it discussed elsewhere.

What's on my mind is that Jesus is our example, our leader, and our Savior. He alone could and did atone for our sins. I want to make it clear that I have an unwavering testimony of who Jesus is and what He did for us. He did what no one else on earth could ever do. What I'm interested in, though, is that He attained perfection and has told us that we are to strive for perfection also (and that it is attainable.) What I wonder is... could we all reach perfection in this life if we were physically born of God? What difference did it make that Jesus was the literal offspring of God?

Jesus was only part mortal during his sojourn on this earth. He was also a God. Didn't His God-self give Him a bit of an advantage? Wouldn't it be a bit easier to resist temptation and bridle passions if part of your being is literally a God? What difference did being God and mortal make to Jesus? I don't want to make it sound like I am belittling all that Jesus did for us. I just wonder sometimes. He had to be born as a God in a mortal body to be able to do what He did. But that does make Him inherently different and better than us.

I know these are questions that I'm probably going to have to wait a long time to hear the answers to (and I'm just naturally assuming that I'm going to see Jesus again after this life!) I'm just curious what His experience was really like. We have so many of His teachings, but sometimes it seems like we got to hear very little about how He actually felt. Nothing is ever mentioned about what it was like to be a God. Were His feelings different because of His God-self? Was He capable of a far greater level of love because He wasn't completely taken over by a mortal side?

It's somewhat reassuring to me to ponder these questions, because I can imagine that Jesus understands us perfectly because of His mortal body, but He also was able to accomplish so much more than a human ever could because of His God-self. And if He was able to do what He did because He had such an advantage (He couldn't have been the Savior if He didn't), why should I feel so terribly guilty for not reaching the same level as Him in this life, seeing as how I am 100% mortal?? I'm not saying that this gives me any excuse for bad thoughts and actions, just that I can't really hope to attain His level of perfection until after I'm resurrected, because I will always be pulled down by my unperfected human self. I am still obligated to live the very best that I can, and to follow His teachings and examples to the best of my ability. But I recognize that the absolute best of MY ability will never equal what He did. It's physically impossible, because I'm not the literal offspring of God. I have the seeds of perfection within me because my spirit is born of God, but my body is all human, and the struggle between body and spirit guarantees that I won't be able to do all that Jesus did.

My entire hope lies with the Resurrection and the perfection that will be possible because of Jesus. He lived, died, and was resurrected so that we can eventually overcome our mortal selves. I'm thankful that He was willing to come to this earth as a God and a mortal. His life wasn't one that any of us would voluntarily choose. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't fun. But He did it because He loves us. He fills in the gap between what we want to be (Gods) and what we are (Human.) And I think it will be incredible to finally experience the complete subjection of my body to my spirit. Jesus' life shows us how wonderfully perfect THAT can be!


Louann and Bari said...

Yes, you are too Perfect. You are a Perfect friend, perfect mom, perfect wife, and perfect RS pres. I know you don't mean it that way. But I bet that's the way Jesus ment it.

Besides that, I'm not a scriptorian. (I can't even spell it). I'm waiting on Ray's comments.

Mama D said...

I thought this was worded exceptionally well. I know what you mean. There is a lot of hope in the atonement and resurrection to overcome mortality and its effects.

I am grateful Christ came as God and man, and atoned for all mankind that offers the opportunity to return to Heavenly Father. It's something to work toward as we TRY to become more like Him and more perfect on a regular basis.

Papa D said...

Louann, You spelled it perfectly.

Very well said, Patty. I wish people would focus on the "process" of perfection instead of the "condition" of perfection.

Consider the following:

Based on the original meaning in Matthew, "Be ye therefore perfect," probably should be translated in our own modern vernacular as, "Become perfected." I like "perfected" MUCH more than "perfect" - since it doesn't carry the same mis-perceptions about being mistake-free.

It is easy to envision a sculptor laboring for years over his "masterpiece" - perfecting it carefully, smoothing over flaws in the initial creative process, altering it by chipping away the rough edges or redoing the blurred and faded colors. Such a product wouldn't be "imperfect" due to "mistakes"; it would be imperfect simply because it is not completed / finished - because there still is work to do and changes to make until it is what its creator meant it to be when he first started molding the original lump of clay.

Thanks, Patty, for the inspiration to write this. I think I will edit this for my next post on Mormon Momma.