We began by discussion on how performance driven we each are. There was a consensus that as physicians this drive is sort of hard wired into just about all of us. It starts with the performance demands on us that we feel must be met to achieve acceptance to medical school, ramp up during residency where every failing can mean a black mark on your chances of success and continue on through our practice of medicine. In Matt 5:48 Jesus tells us to “be perfect”!!! Like that’s what we need – more pressure to achieve. This evening we talked about what Jesus meant by this and how that true meaning can affect our practice of medicine.
As we pointed out last month, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he calls us to a very counter-cultural way to live. In those days the Jews were trying to live by the law and mostly failing miserably, as we would as well. But in Matt 5:17-20 Jesus tells them their righteousness must surpass the Pharisees. We spent some time talking about why this would be disheartening to the people since the Pharisees were the best rule keepers around. We talked about our personnel struggles to “keep the rules” in the practice of medicine and why that is so disheartening at times.
We explored what Jesus meant by “righteousness” and that it is really right standing with God. We talked that this can only be achieved by fulfilling the law. But the key was to understand that there are two ways to keep the law – first you could keep it (which no one can) or, second, you can pay the penalty of breaking the law. We discussed how this is the central idea of Christianity – that Jesus has paid the penalty for our breaking the law and therefore we can be righteous in God’s eyes. We talked about what the implications are for each of us in the way we live our lives.
We then read Matt 5:21-48 in which Jesus covers a number of topics and it appears they are about how we are to behave. But in closely reading these, especially vs 21-22, 27-28, and 43-44, we came to see that he was not explaining so much how to behave but how to set your mind on your behavior. Not just don’t kill, but don’t be angry. Not just avoid adultery but don’t let your mind settle on the opposite sex lustfully. Not just love your neighbor but love your enemies. We spent some time discussing which is actually harder to do – control your external actions or your internal thoughts? Jesus is calling us to control our thoughts. That can only be done when we give our inside, our hearts and minds to Christ. That’s when we truly accept him as our savior. We then talked about how being more concerned with your heart issues is very counter-cultural. People are always undergoing Performance Reviews at work. We talked about these in our jobs and how they are totally centered on your external performance. That’s the way our culture works. But Jesus is always more interested in the inside of us.
Lastly, we attacked that last verse, Vs 48 that says Jesus wants us to ‘be perfect.’ Through our discussion we came to realize that what he wants perfect is our heart our intentions. None of us will ever perform perfectly but we can strive to keep our intentions pure and our motives heavenly.