Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.--St. Matthew 5:48
This verse has given me much trouble over the years. The way I heard it interpreted was that God wants us to be perfect like Him. There was this connotation of personal responsibility--to strive for ever-deeper levels of holiness and Godly perfection.
Recently, I came across a different understanding of this verse. The word "perfect" in this verse is the Greek word: τέλοϛ, "telos." The word "telos," according to what I was able to find (I'm no Greek scholar!) has the connotation of "completion" and "uttermost."
I also read somewhere that the telos of God means God is very fully God. He is the uttermost of Godness.
If, then, we are to be telos like God is telos, could this mean Jesus is telling us to be very fully who God created us to be? I will never BE God the Father but I can very uttermostly be the person I am. In this way, by fully becoming the person God created me to be, I fully embody my telos as God fully embodies His telos.
To put it in a rough vernacular: God wants me to be the best version of myself. The best me I can be!
This understanding is much different than trying to attain God-like "perfection."
Becoming the person God created us to be is not easy. It requires a good deal of healing in order to reach this full potential of communion with God and others. I like how C.S. Lewis analogized becoming perfect to going to the dentist: you may think you're going in for just a toothache only to find out God's going to work on your entire mouth.
Is this somewhat similar to the Master Potter molding us to fully become the vessels He wants us to become? In other words, it's not about us trying to become Master Potters ourselves (ie, 'striving' to be something we very clearly are not--God is God and I am not seems to be the foundational principle, here) but allowing God to do His work.
For myself, I know I can only allow God to do His work on me if I trust Him as the unconditional lover of my soul. I'm not about to submit to any ol' capricious deity who is molding me for His personal game of sport.
But what if God truly is all-loving, all-compassionate and everlastingly merciful? Then becoming fully alive, fully ME under His hands is a privilege, no?
Perhaps becoming telos is very similar to what St. Ireneaus once wrote:
"The glory of God is the human being fully alive."
Anyway, these are just my rambling thoughts for today. I'd be interested to hear what you think "being perfect" means....
What if the only plan God had for you was for you to be... very fully, uttermostly YOU?