Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has shared many revelations of spiritual truth with me, and I want to share them with you. In today’’s broadcast, we examine the drive for spiritual perfection.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Drive for Spiritual Perfection
"Be ye therefor perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 48
It is not the failure of the body or the mind that defeats us in life; rather it is the failure of the heart.
Years ago when I was a young man of 18, I joined the Army and volunteered to become a paratrooper. My brother was asking me about this experience, especially the process of becoming a paratrooper. My mind journeyed back to that time and was flooded with memories of the process. It was a daunting process. The physical requirements were demanding, requiring one to go very deep inside one’’s self to endure and ultimately to meet the challenge.
Our training began with our arrival at Fort Benning, Georgia. We could see the 250-ft towers that we were to become very familiar with as a part of our training to be paratroopers as we came closer to the base. After arriving at the designated area, we were hurriedly put into military formation under the blazing July sun. And we stood there for what seemed like hours. As we stood there the cadre would harass us, ordering us to do push-ups for the slightest infraction. And there were many infractions that ranged from swatting the nets that swarmed over our sweat drenched faces to standing with our hands on our hips or shifting our weight from one leg to another. Finally we were taken to our barracks at a double time. This was the beginning of physical training. We were not allowed to walk; everywhere we went with the exception of going to Jump School and returning from Jump School, we had to run.
Jump School was 3 weeks in duration. There was ground week, tower week, and finally jump week. We had to wait 2 weeks before we started Jump school. And during that 2-week period we trained to prepare for the qualifying tests. Our day usually began around 2 am in the morning. We went to breakfast at 7 am, double timing it there and back. As we passed along the serving line, we were served by those unfortunate soldiers who had dropped out or who failed to pass all the requirements. And this was a humiliating experience for those who did not make the "cut." Usually they endured this humiliating experience for weeks, awaiting orders for reassignment.
After breakfast, we ran back to our barracks to prepare for the physical qualifying tests for parachute training. We had to do so many push-ups, pull-ups, so many sit ups, and run a certain amount of miles within a certain period of time. And so all day long between breakfast and lunch and between dinner, we practiced doing these exercises and running. If you could not pass this physical test, you were eliminated from the training program and eventually reassigned. During this period of training, we were not given any liberty passes to go off of base. But we did have a break on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But even then we had to run where ever we went
Finally the physical tests were administered, and I passed them without difficulty. I was in excellent physical condition, having prepared myself even before I got to Fort Benning. Once I found out what was required for the training, I began practicing to meet the qualifications. And then began the rigorous physical training designed to turn me into a paratrooper. In addition to the physical stress, there was quite a bit of mental stress. There was zero tolerance for mistakes. Every mistake was penalized by having us do pushups. When you jumped out of an airplane at 1250 feet, the air was unforgiving, and any mistake would swiftly hurl you to your death. So after the three weeks of grueling training, we became qualified paratroopers and entitled to wear the coveted wings upon our chests. But throughout all of this, desire, faith, tenacity and willingness to go through the process were required. Those few who did not make it lacked the will to make it. This was a problem of the heart, not of the head or the body. The body will do whatever the mind tells it to do, and the mind will do whatever the heart, the will, tells it to do.
In the drive for spiritual perfection, we must have a similar attitude. We must be willing to be any and all things necessary to achieve our goal. We must be like the soldier who was fighting in the Korean War. He was exhausted, tired, sleepy, hungry, cold, and battle weary; he was sure that he would not get out of this battle alive. So he went to see the Chaplin and requested that he be allowed to give his confession. The Chaplin listened to his confession, and before he left said to the soldier, "When the going gets tough, remember to say, "not my will, but your will be done." The soldier in reflecting on his experience said he must have repeated this phrase over a thousand times, and it worked. The command to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect requires all that we have. Half-hearted efforts will be unavailing.
As we battle our way up the slopes of moral difficulties unto the highlands of spiritual conquest, there are certain spiritual weapons we can use to help us: desire, faith, trust, hope, courage, patience, peace, joy, and tenacity. Armed with these spiritual weapons, we are ready to begin the battle to be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect. The Father leads us by giving us the values that we will need to be successful. He also gives us his Son, who guides us into these values. Without the guide, the Spirit of Truth, it will be impossible for us to follow the leading of the Father as we make our way up the slopes of increasing moral difficulty onto the highlands of spiritual conquest, where we take on the completed image of his Son.
This is an inward journey. We are journeying from being human to being divine. We are moving away from our selfish nature towards the divine nature. As we respond to this desire for spiritual perfection, we must respond by exercising faith. Without faith, we will fail even before we begin. We wouldn’’t even try if we didn’’t have it. We begin this inward journey when we are presented with our first moral decision to choose our way or the Father’’s way. And as moral and spiritual decisions become increasingly difficult, we must be sustained by our hope in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Our hope makes us stronger tomorrow than the sum of our strength today. While faith propels our souls toward the image of his Son, hope pulls us through the inertia of our current status.
As we contemplate the great and awesome challenge before us, we must marshal our courage; we must overcome our fear of failure; we must not be daunted by the slopes of moral difficulty. We must proceed in the face of the material doubts of the mind. Our attitude must be that with "Christ Jesus, I can do all things." When we temporarily falter on the slopes of moral difficulty, we must regroup, learn from our mistakes, and resume the struggle. We must be patient, for this is not an easy journey. It will take some time to achieve this goal of divine perfection. We must call forth tenacity in our efforts. We must refuse to give up.
We must remember that we are not alone in this struggle. We are guided and empowered by the Son to overcome all the obstacles of evil. We must exercise trust as we follow him, regardless of the material circumstances. He knows the way to climb the slope of imperfection since he is familiar with every step of the way If we follow him, we cannot fail. We will succeed. And overshadowing all of our efforts is the all-embracing love of the Father, who ever beckons us forward. His hands of mercy and grace are outstretched to us, imparting the growth and assistance needed for us to complete the journey. If our hearts do not fail us, we will arrive as scheduled, not as the imperfect soul who began the journey but as the perfected soul who stands in the embrace of the heavenly Father.
This concludes today's message on the meaning of the drive for spiritual perfection. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.