Let us look at perfection by reading Hebrews 7:27; “He (Christ) does not need to offer sacrifices every day for His own sins and for the sins of people.” Of course the Lord did not need to offer sacrifices for His own sins! He had none, for He is the only perfect one, “Who offered one sacrifice, once for all, when He offered Himself.” And He did all that for you and for me.
Jesus was not in need of perfection but we most certainly are. And ours must be a never-ending road to perfection. There is no such thing as instant perfection or salvation. The mentality of instant perfection and salvation has always been foreign to the Orthodox way of life. That is why I feel that it is highly regrettable that the words of Jesus, “You shall be perfect,” were translated as “You must be (or be ye) perfect.” The Greek verb “eseste” used in the original is a verb in the future tense. It is an unshakable promise which, in no unclear terms, says that perfection is to be granted in the future by grace. The incorrect translation of the future into a present tense and in the imperative mood implies that man is expected, downright ordered, to reach perfection now.
“Jesus was not in need of perfection but we most certainly are. And ours must be a never-ending road to perfection.”
There was a very holy monk on Mt. Athos, highly revered by all the monks on the holy mountain who tried to imitate is holiness. When a novice asked monk replied, “I have only just begun my son, I have only just begun.” Perfection in this life according to Orthodox Theology is not the state of “I have arrived. I have made it. I am saved.” It is rather a state of “I am on the way. I am moving. I am growing. I am ascending.” Our life is never complete. We shall always be “on the way.” Our very perfection is to always grow more perfect, more like Christ and that is a never-ending process.
To be perfect, as our God is impossible, but to keep moving toward perfection is always within our possibility with the help of God. In the Orthodox Christian spirituality, salvation and perfection is not a state of being. It is the movement towards THEOSIS, toward becoming Christ-like, which can never be fully achieved. It is growing towards perfection. It is a movement without ceasing from sin to salvation, from slavery to freedom, from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, from despair to hope and from death to life. And when we reach those stages, salvation and perfection is moving: from truth to greater truth, from wisdom to greater wisdom, from joy to deeper joy, from understanding to deeper understanding and from an all-embracing love to more of it. This process must http://atlantametropolisphiloptochos.org/go on eternally. We can never reach the stage where we can say: “Well, now I have made it. All that remains for me to do is to sit around and enjoy being perfect.” So my message to us is to stay on the route to perfection and salvation at all costs.
† Rev. Fr. Soterios Rousakis Protopresbyter
Saint Stefanos, St. Petersburg FL
Fr. Soterios Rousakis, Protopresbyter, is the eldest son of Rev. Fr. James and Presvytera Vasiliki Rousakis and was born on August 11, 1972, in Atlanta, GA. Father Soterios has three children, Vasiliki, 13; Christina, 11 and Demetri, 9 and enjoys spending time with his children, playing golf and basketball. Father believes that the Orthodox Church has a great treasury that needs to be continuously shared with the faithful, and with hard work and dedication, he will continue to strive in sharing that treasury.