Vol.XVII No.XII Pg.1
February 1981

Unattainable Ideals

Robert F. Turner

The writer quoted in our editorial misses the point of "leaven" when he equates it with organizational structure. Working one-on- one to convert the world does not negate God's plan for the collective functions of His saints. But we are more disturbed by the assumption that when we fail to attain to a God-given ideal, "human wisdom" may then work out "the best way to do it."

The standards of Christianity are all idealistic. They "exist as a pattern ...as a perfect exemplar." We are to be pure (1 Jn. 3:3), holy (1 Pet. 1:16) and "perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). The goals are practically and literally "unattainable" for man. Our self-styled reformers, who have recently discovered "grace," rush in at this point to toot "imputation." But even they, when pushed, admit that man must meet certain conditions before the blessings can be enjoyed. Even our "faith only" (for justification) advocators admit that saints have something to "do" in order to reach heaven. But the standards for that "doing" are also idealistic!! We could take the "preservation" way, and say, "once saved, always" regardless of our actions. We could say God's ideal doesn't work, hence "human wisdom" must work out an alternative plan — an appalling conclusion to come from one who is supposed to be bringing men into God's kingdom. But there is another alternative.

We are to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). The Apostle Paul did not count himself as having "attained; either were already perfect," but he was TRYING. Striving, reaching forth, pressing toward, are clear indications that while idealism is higher than man, this is no reason to abandon it as our goal.

"Christ liveth in me" is not a declaration of utter passivity; it says I have given up living for myself, by "human wisdom" if you please, and am now giving myself wholly to the press toward the ideals of God in Christ. This is the essence of giving one's heart, serving God with one's spirit (Row. 1:9; 2:29). Striving for God's ideal is the proof of man's faith.