Jesus taught “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). After His resurrection He added, “even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). I find it interesting that while mortal – even as “Jesus, the Son of God” – He seemed reluctant or often unwilling to point to Himself as perfect.
Is this commandment to be perfect just lip service? Some sort of trite, meaningless idea? How would we even become perfect in this life if we wanted to?
LDS teaching might lead us to believe that “perfect” doesn’t actually mean perfect and that we only need to be made “complete,” “whole” or in death become “just men made perfect.” But if this was the case why would Jesus not say “Be ye therefore perfect as just men made perfect are perfect.” Or “as Abraham or Job became perfect.” He said as “I and my Father are perfect!”
It is my understanding that in order to even begin to exercise faith in God we must know His true character (Lectures on Faith). If we suppose we are nearly like God, or will shortly become perfect as He is after we die, perhaps we are fools who greatly and grossly underestimate the power and greatness of our Father.
When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.
Will we attain unto perfection in this life simply by being “good people”? It is a great accomplishment to be good and more importantly to be made whole and to be redeemed. In fact this is the only requirement for us now I believe, to be redeemed. But Christ commands us to be perfect even as He now is, and as His Father, for innumerable eternities, has been. Would He give us a commandment that could not be fulfilled? Or is His commandment to continue beyond this life also?
Jesus taught that for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (Luke 18:25). Surely to become like God, it will be much harder than to pass through the eye of a needle. It will surely be just as Christ had to do — to drink from a cup, which even for Him seemed at the time impossible.
I will not likely be crucified in this life. I will definitely not suffer for sins of others in Gethsemane. I am not to be a Savior as He was. Yet He invites us all to pick up our crosses and follow Him, to be like Him, to be like God.
Surely it is not all to be comprehended in this world and will be a great work beyond the grave. In the meantime, being healed is the goal. Passing through the veil in this life is the invitation. I believe He will teach us and lead us to Him if we will let Him. Help Thou mine unbelief Lord.
This is what I believe. He is amazing. He is to be worshiped. Only He and His Father are truly perfect in our sphere. Only They can save us.