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Is God’s Perfection What I want?

Don - September 21, 2009

I was thinking about Matt. 5:48, and how were admonished to become like Jesus. Both are nice goals – but!?

Jesus proclaimed himself and his father perfect to the Nephites and told us to be the same. He, in another place said “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen my father.”

It sounds like Jesus wants me to be a “mini-me” of Him and God.

If I had perfect love, like Jesus then I probably would lose some of – or all of – my sarcasm. How much of my humor would I lose if I was more like Jesus? How much of other “traits” that define me would I lose?

If the goal is to be perfect like Jesus then don’t I just become another “Jesus” in personality, love, patience, service, etc.?

Since I’m not perfect in any trait now, then the traits that define me are all not perfect. If perfection comes then I lose who I am, I become someone else – and I guess that’s what Benjamin was preaching about. But that someone else has become like Jesus, with all of Jesus’s perfect traits – a Jesus “mini-me”

Where is the diversity, or is there any when it come to perfection?


  1. Perfection only exists in relation to a particular goal. In other words, a hammer can be perfect for hammering a nail and a chair can be perfect for sitting on, but it doesn’t make sense to talk about a tool or piece of furniture as being perfect in some abstract sense.

    With that, diversity in perfection comes from diversity of preferences. If I like gardening and you like football, then my perfect self will be different than yours. Neither is less or greater than the other, they are just perfect for different purposes, both of which are worthy pursuits.

    Comment by Dane — September 21, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  2. There are two questions here:

    1. To what degree is *perfection* a determinant of personality and so forth, or can there be more than one “perfect” personality, character, sense of humor, and so on. I say the latter.

    2. What is the nature of God’s perfection? Is he a fixed point? Does he think about things? Make decisions? Does what he grants depend on what we ask? Can he be surprised in the least degree? Does he work with other exalted beings? Collaborate? and so on…

    Comment by Mark D. — September 21, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

  3. Dane, Doesn’t a perfect person like both football and gardening perfectly the same – understand each perfectly well?

    If the perfect tool to pound a nail in is a hammer, then does it make sense for us rocks to keep pounding? Or since we rocks all want to be the perfect tool for pounding in a nail then don’t we all want to be hammers?

    Comment by Don — September 21, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  4. Mark, that’s my whole question – can there really be more than one “perfect” personality etc.

    What about humor – let’s say I split a gut at “Redneck” jokes and find it humorous when other people tell stories on themselves. I question whether those are acceptable traits for a perfect personality.

    Comment by Don — September 21, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  5. Don,

    I’m not sure why a perfect person would like football and gardening both the same. Preferences aren’t just a matter of understanding something. Perhaps Joseph Smith likes vanilla ice cream and Brigham Young likes chocolate ice cream. Neither preference is more “perfect” than the other, and their exalted, perfected personages would likely order different flavors at Baskin-Robbins.

    Sure, if we’re trying to pound nails then we’d rather be hammers than rocks. But if we want to provide a comfortable place to sit then we’d rather be chairs than hammers. And if we want to support a building, then we’d rather be rocks than chairs. Perfection only makes sense in relation to some intended purpose.

    Comment by Dane — September 21, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  6. This reminds me of Plato’s Cave.

    Comment by Bret — September 21, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

  7. “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

    In this idea there are a few things to understand.

    He gave us life so that we could live and have joy. Considering He made this world and everyone in it, He has a better sense of what happiness is than we do. As someone who has more than a fair share of ire and rapier wit, I can honestly say that I won’t miss it when it’s gone. The happiness He offers is better than anything I have.

    Also, keep in mind that anyone who isn’t will to live with an eye single to the glory of God (i.e. away from all that s/he knows and all that s/he is) won’t be seeing eternal life anyway. Immortality, sure. But not exaltation.

    I guess we each have to ask ourselves what’s more important; eternal rest and happiness beyond our wildest imagination, or a couple of snide remarks that we mistake for a personality?

    I think it’s safe to say that He knows us better than we know ourselves and if we’ll let Him guide us to that best and purest part of ourselves, we’ll thank Him for it some day.

    To which I would also add that God does have a sense of humor. A perfect one, in fact. Remember Elder Wirthlin’s last talk? Only a God that loves to laugh would instruct us to seek out wholesome laughter.

    Comment by Paradox — September 21, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  8. I agree with Paradox on this one. I am thoroughly convinced that God has quite a sense of humor. Have you seen the Platypus! HaHaHaHa! Just kidding. I mean, I don’t think anyone would really let a couple of fart jokes keep them from becoming like heavenly father would they?

    Comment by Ian Cook — September 21, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  9. Don, The next related question is, “Is God still progressing in *any* way?”. If he is then his perfection is not a fixed point – his perfection is increasing from day to day, which means multiple degrees of perfection.

    Jesus said, “be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect”. He didn’t say be perfect full stop. He said be perfect in the *way* your Father in heaven is perfect.

    Comment by Mark D. — September 21, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  10. I recently read _The Great Divorce_ by CS Lewis. It helped me understand how limited our view is on God and God’s truth and God’s life. How our measures of ‘good’ and ‘desirable’ and of the value of our individual talents, etc. are veiled in significant ways. What will be ‘funny’ to us in a world that is not fallen? What will be joyful? What will make us cry? What will we WANT to hold onto of ourselves when we see and are given, through grace, all that He has (however that actually will take place).

    I think part of the challenge comes in imposing too much of mortality onto God. Can we even comprehend His perfection? I don’t think we can. Can we comprehend the heights and depths and breadths of His character and existence, power and glory, joy and love?

    The way I read Lewis, he suggests that choosing heaven really requires us to be willing to let go of how we think things are and to try to see things as they really are — including what He and His life really are like. I think as engage in that process little by little, in letting go, losing ourselves in Him and His service, we only come to find out more about who we really are and find that we lose nothing, but gain light and joy, glimpses of eternity and God’s character. We can come to discern what traits are really godly and what may need some refining…or even abandoning.

    I have no idea how individuality works in the next life, but I just have to believe that whatever God wants to give us (all that He has) will exceed anything we could imagine. THAT was the crux of Lewis’ book. He captured the love and glory of the next life in a way that I have never really felt before.

    Comment by m&m — September 22, 2009 @ 12:58 am

  11. FWIW, I glanced at this talk, too, and thought it might be worth mentioning. Elder Oaks addresses diversity a little, and includes an interesting quote from Pres. Hinckley. All best in context, though.

    Comment by m&m — September 22, 2009 @ 12:59 am

  12. I think our personality has a grounding that is, at bottom, unique and not subject to alteration. It simply is the self that is deep, that has always been and will always be. Much like our maleness or femaleness, however, and connected somewhat to those things, it cannot be accurately described with the kinds of adjectives we use to describe personality: it isn’t fixedly any of these things: spontaneous, reflective, nurturing, careful, or anything that we might use to describe personality. It is perhaps only described, like the words man and woman, by its names, my names. I am Thomas, or Tom, or Tommy; I’ve had other names before, and in the future I will have yet other names, but the deep self will remain even whenthe superficial dimensions of our personality have been perfected and completed. And in heaven we will still find joy in the diversity of those other selves we associate with, with ‘the same sociality that exists here.’

    Here’s a reflection. I am different person than I was a couple of years ago, and a much different person than I was seven or eight years ago. I’ve subjected my personality to the changes that come through the gospel process to a substantial effect. There are many of my personality traits that have been ameliorated and some almost eliminated. And yet I experience that deep self the same as always. Although I’m a different man, I’m still very much the same man, I’m still in here with me in some way that I recognize even from my earliest childhood memories. This consciousness carries with it an identity, and that identity never goes away. And I think it is what we love in other people. ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — September 22, 2009 @ 5:08 am

  13. I’m too lazy at the moment to find the portion of the book, but C.S. Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity” something to the effect that there are countless ways of become more like what God wants us to become, but the evil people of the world, they’re remarkably alike. That must have some relevance here.

    Comment by Eric — September 22, 2009 @ 7:16 am

  14. Why do we assume that “perfect” means “optimal” anyway? Doesn’t the original Greek connote wholeness or completeness?

    That’s a popular reading, but let’s go further by not proof-texting this verse. What’s the context? There’s a “therefore” in there. What idea does “be ye *therefore* perfect” follow from?

    Love your enemies. Your Heavenly Father makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good. Love those who hate you, salute those who do not salute you. Treat everyone as if they belong to a big group called “us” – and therefore be complete like your Father.

    In the Book of Mormon version of this verse, Jesus describes himself as being “complete” as well. He had just carried out history’s greatest merciful act, applied equally to everyone who receives it. Those who do become like him, and sit with him on his throne, to reign in equal power and glory. In his love for us all, he is obviously complete and whole like his Father.

    The verse is about mercy, charity and benevolence, and the global extent with which they should be applied. Reading it as instructions to attain the unique maximum of some anxiety-induced fuzzy measure of goodness is just wrong.

    Linky: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/matt/5

    Start reading in verse 43 for context. (Or start in 38, which begins a mini-sermon on how we should personally let our desire for mercy overcome our desire for justice or revenge. It’s related.)

    Comment by The Right Trousers — September 22, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

  15. Ephesians 4:13

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

    I think that pretty much sums up perfection. Nothing about being free from acne, or typing 300 words per minute, etc.

    Comment by Mike H. — September 23, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  16. I agree. Nothing about “perfect” connotes “identical” to me. You can be perfect and still maintain differences in personality, appearance, preferences, etc. Even the Father and Son are different in those respects, I think.

    Comment by MCQ — September 24, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

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