Be complete, therefore, as your heavenly Father is complete.
One of the things I love most about our friends, the Trautweins and everyone at Will to Live, is that they put a heavy emphasis on saying, “I love you.” It’s something we do a lot in our family. We even have other ways we say it. My wife and I do three quick hand squeezes, for each other and for the boys. And I often do the classic I Love You sign language gesture. To which, our oldest boys reply with a peace sign... aka... I love you TOO. And now, our toddler is learning.
This week, as our toddler watched cartoons from his crib, he giggled and clapped in delight. He shouted his version of affection, “I YOU!” (Love is a tricky word for an 18-month old) I made the sign with my hand. And for the first time, he attempted, using two hands, to form one hand into the same symbol, trying to emulate me. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t complete. But he was trying. And one day, he will get there.
In our passage, the Greek word is téleioi. It’s often translated as “perfect,” and in other places in the New Testament, as “mature.” But it can be argued a better translation here is “complete.” When we do as Christ did, when we love as Christ loved, we are doing what we can to be more perfect, more complete. We are closer to Christ when we do as Christ did, even when it doesn’t quite look the same, even as we exercise those muscles in unpracticed or unskilled ways, learning to say or show, “I love you.” We can get discouraged when our childlike attempts don’t look much like Christ. But when we are brave and curious and try something new to show God our love, we can trust God is smiling and saying, “I love you too.”