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Friday, February 17, 2017

Next Day

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Well there's a lofty goal for the day! I was planning on having pretty low standards today, actually. It's Friday before a long weekend, so I'm pretty well checked out for the week.

The Greek word teleios, translated here as "perfect," more broadly implies "complete" or "fulfilled." The same word is used by Jesus in John 19:30 when he is dying on the cross: "It is finished," he says, meaning "it is fulfilled." That is to say, here on the cross all of scripture has been fulfilled.

Fulfilled? Complete? Rather than perfect. Whew! That's a different thought. Well, maybe. How might we be complete, if not perfect? Maybe teleios is about returning to the ABCs of holiness from Psalm 119: "turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain." Maybe it's about turning toward the one who is perfect, the one who loves us and calls us to love the world.

Turn me back to you, O perfect one, and toward my neighbor. Teach me to love once again. Amen.

Christine Hallenbeck Ask, '15
Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Matthew 5:38-48 (NRSV)

38 "You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.'
39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;
40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well;
41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.
42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.
43 "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.