How's your love-life?

What is perfection? It probably means a variety of things to different people. If you are a show-jumper you would want your horse to jump a perfect round. If you are a gymnast you would want to score a perfect ten. If you are a snooker player, you would want to achieve the perfect 147 break. However the moment any such act of perfection is accomplished it has ended. Such perfection is just fleeting.

No painter will ever paint the perfect picture, no sculptor ever carve the perfect statue, no singer sing the perfect song, because they are all a matter of personal taste, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

To be a perfectionist, can be a burden and a creative joy. A perfectionist may be someone whose high standards you admire, or who drives you made with frustration.

The Oxford English dictionary defines being ‘perfect’ as ‘having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.’

Is God perfect? Is He ‘Perfect in power, in love and purity,’ as we sing in the hymn 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty?’

Christians believe God is perfect, because he is complete in himself, he lacks nothing. He cannot be given anything that he needs. The perfection of God is what we celebrate today on this Trinity Sunday that God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost is perfectly contained, active and fulfilled within himself.

To describe God is never easy. Our language is deficient in trying to describe what is infinite. The seventeenth century hymn-writer John Mason asked the question, ‘how shall I sing that majesty?’. He lamented his own inadequacy in singing God’s praises compared to the angels in heaven. He described God as 'a sea without a shore, a sun without a sphere.' His wonderful nature is without limits.

If God is what is perfect, then surely we would want to find out more about him. Jesus said that unless we become like little children we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Young children in RE classes challenge everything. They want answers to questions. I went in recently to Year 5 at St Michael’s to answer questions on the Holy Spirit, and one of them asked me, ‘is the Holy Spirit the soul of God?’ What a question from a ten-year-old!

God, in his gracious goodness, gives himself to be understood in Jesus Christ. Jesus was perfect divinity contained in flawed humanity.  Jesus was afraid, he was tempted to sin, he got frustrated and lost his temper. But he also showed perfect love. He himself was the gift of perfect love, for God loved the world so much, that he gave his only son.  He showed supreme love by laying down his life for others, the deserving and the undeserving.

'Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us,' said Philip to Jesus. 'To have seen me is to have seen the Father.' Jesus replied. In Jesus we see perfect compassion, ‘love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be’. This is not simply a matter of just looking and copying.  We are not able through our own strength to emulate Jesus. The Holy Spirit enables us to understand him, and to live like him. God is love and love is the action of the Trinity, giving and receiving love within himself. In the Holy Spirit we enter into God and join in the love-life of the Trinity. Through faith in God, we gain a love-life. Some of us may have thought our love-lives were over, but no, for the Christian our love-life never comes to an end! 

St Paul says to the Corinthians ‘try to be perfect’. 'Live in peace, support one another.' The love-life of the Christian is life lived together in community, loving one another, as a reflection of divine love. Paul says when we lead that sort of life, the God of love and peace will be with us.

Jesus said ‘be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.’ That doesn’t mean being the most impossibly holy saint ever, Jesus is saying  ‘be complete’ as God is complete. Belief in God, understanding him in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, purely and simply, can make life complete. Everything else will flow from that love-life in the Trinity.

And finally: Susan was very pleased to get her son George into a church school, because she hoped he would grow up a good and faithful Christian boy. Imagine her delight when she comes into the kitchen and she sees her little boy spelling a word with magnetic letters on the fridge. 'G-O-D: God'.  'That’s wonderful, George!' she says, 'leave it there for your father to see.'  ‘Ok’ says George, ‘but how do you spell zilla?’