Aslan, the Great Lion, was right: Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.
Thomas Merton once wrote: “Whether you teach or live in the cloister or nurse the sick, whether you are in religion or out of it, married or single, no matter who you are or what you are, you are called to the summit of perfection.” The New Testament is emphatic:
- Stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Col 4:12)
- Let us go on to perfection (Heb 6:1)
- Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48)
Unfortunately, when we read about becoming perfect or arriving at perfection, I’m afraid we think of some kind of error-free performance. The kind that’s calculated, scored, or measured.
That was not ancient Christianity’s understanding.
Being perfect was not about living error-free but living in a way that was congruent with their telos — God’s ultimate aim or purpose for their lives.
In other words, perfection meant someone was doing what they’re designed to do.
Trying to live error-free is like using a knife as a hammer. It's frustrating, unproductive, and misguided because it’s not what the knife was designed to do.
What’s the telos or purpose of a knife? What does the bladesmith want?
It’s when we stop hammering and start cutting that our frustration disappears and the knife makes more sense. Why? Because it’s being used in a way that’s congruent with its purpose. It’s fulfilling its telos.
And notice this.
The knife’s perfection is not found in becoming an exquisitely honed piece of steel, but in simply carving meat and dicing vegetables. Some sharpness is involved, no doubt. But being perfect is not about attaining some radically thin, idealistic edge.
It’s about cutting.
Training with Christ in the Threefold Way is not about trying to achieve some ultimate degree of virtue, some supreme ideal, some error-free performance.
That’s a mirage.
It encourages perfectionism, not perfection, the adversary of transformation. Perfectionism wants to measure, count, judge. It needs to elevate self and reduce others.
It’s the opposite of humility; it’s superiority.
So, if perfection simply means we’re living in a way that’s congruent with our telos, and our human telos is to develop more-and-more into Christlikeness, which is the divine likeness (Gen 1:26), then perfection is not a static achievement but an unending advance into the life of God.
To be perfect, therefore, is to simply be on the journey.
It’s not about arriving at some future destination, but traveling the path of infinite transformation.
The old writers say God is immutable, unchanging. We, on the other hand, are mutable, changing. In short, God is fixed, we’re in flux.
And here’s the crucial point: change, transformation, development are not just marks of this life — but our next one too.
Why is there’s no end to our transformational journey? Because there’s no end to divinity.
God is an eternal discovery.
The deeper we go, the deeper He gets. The more we know, the more He reveals. In the words of Gregory of Nyssa, “The one limit of perfection is the fact that it has no limit, there is no stopping place in the racecourse of virtue.” From every new summit of virtue attained, fresh fields of vision will open up before us, divine horizons more dazzling and inviting than the one before.
Perfection is not a destination but a direction.
There is no definitive attainment.
Perfection is progress.
It’s a matter of developing, always by degree, into the divine likeness. That’s why Thomas Merton said, “But Oh! How far have I to go to find You in whom I have already arrived.”
I believe our destiny is to discover and develop more-and-more into the divine likeness, to grow more-and-more into the reality to which we are called, to become more-and-more who we already are at the very center of our being—divine images cultivating divine life.
To grow god-like, is to grow forever.
Aslan, the Great Lion, was right:
“Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
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I have a feeling I will have to read this several times to absorb this