Yesterday I said there were at least two lessons we could glean from the parable of the fishing net regarding the kingdom of heaven. The first lesson was that when you cast a net into the sea you never know what you’re going to get. There will be both “good fish and bad fish.” It’s not our place to judge between the two at this time but to live together, like the wheat and the tares, until the “end of the age” when God will judge and send the angels to do the reaping. That’s the 2nd lesson. The reapers, the angels, will separate the “evil from the righteous.”

When we think of “evil versus righteous” we think of people who do good things and avoid doing bad things. But Jesus never pigeonholed us in that way. To Him “all have sinned.” To Him there were none righteous. He doesn’t separate people into two kinds; good or bad, Jew or Gentile, Rich or Poor, Male or Female, etc. We are all the same. In John 7:19 where Jesus was talking to the most righteous people of the land, He said, “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.” Further, in Matthew 7:11, Jesus tells his disciples that they are “evil” even though they may give good gifts to their children. Paul addresses this same subject in the first three chapters of the book of Romans. In Chapter 1, verses 18-32, Paul describes how the most obviously wicked people need Jesus. In Chapter 2, he explains how the most religious people in the world are still sinners and need Jesus. Next, he explains how the most moral people in the world are still sinners and need Jesus. His conclusion is that “all have sinned and fall short” of God’s standard of perfection.

Yes, Jesus calls us to be perfect. When talking to the rich young ruler in Matthew 5, Jesus made it clear that the standard for admittance into the Kingdom of heaven was perfection. But then he says to the rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect…come, and follow me.” Jesus is the only path to perfection. In his summary of this discussion, John Piper writes, “The crucial question is: How is Jesus the path to perfection? One historic answer is that Jesus himself is our perfection. That is, when we are connected with him by faith, God counts us to be perfect because of Jesus, even though in ourselves we are not. Another historic answer is that Jesus, by his presence and power within us, transforms us so that we really begin to love like he does and move toward perfection, which we finally obtain in heaven. It seems to me that Jesus gives us good reason to believe that both of these answers are true.” Piper is right. We have a perfect standing with God because of our position “in Him.” He is also in the process of perfecting us through the presence of His Holy Spirit in our lives. He will complete that process when He brings us into His heavenly kingdom, thus preserving its perfect nature.