"You must be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48) says Jesus. His life demonstrates the self-denial and sacrifice that leads to this moral perfection, and he calls us to follow his example.
And the Perfection of our Character is what he meant here. Jesus doesn't require us to be the fastest runner, the snappiest dresser, or the most perfect speakers in the world. Perfection doesn't mean we all should seek to look alike, or that we must be able do every mundane task perfectly, without mistakes.
These misunderstandings about what Perfection means is why some claim that we cannot "be perfect" in all things. And if these physical examples were the perfection Jesus demanded, all reasonable people could easily reject such a thing as impossible.
But how DO we achieve it?
Jesus simply asks us to daily seek Godly perfection in all we think, say, and do. Through service and self-sacrifice, we are perfected. This is the cross, the burden, Jesus bids us to take up in our daily journey.
Those who too quickly condemn the idea of obtaining moral perfection are therefore in conflict with Jesus' teachings, and deny that he spoke the truth during his ministry about our ability to follow him.
Jesus offers to us his lessons, his experiences, and his life as a perfect example of one who lived in perfect harmony with God, whom Jesus said was his and our Father. Jesus calls us to follow his example, doing exactly as he did, and to be perfect and holy, just as God is perfect and holy.
This Jesus, who said he was perfectly in accord with the Father, always doing what pleased Him (John 8:29) said that we could do all things that he did, and that if we loved him, we would do all that he taught us (John 14:21; 15:10) and would teach others to do the same. (Matt. 28:20)
The moral perfection of our character is the goal we are called to seek - growing into the people God wishes us to become. By taking up Jesus' challenge to seek perfection, we become part of God's Spiritual Kingdom Jesus established with his ministry of Good Works.
Jesus calls us to forgive, just as God forgives, and be merciful, just as God is merciful. Seeking to be Godly people is never labeled as "impossible" for us by Jesus. On the contrary, as a fully human man, just as we are, he demonstrated that God's commands are neither unreasonable, nor impossible.
Jesus calls us to fail more perfectly each time we try. Which, if we're humble about it, isn't "failure" anymore. We are called by Jesus to "Fail upward" on this journey towards this Godly perfection he calls us to.
Jesus calls us to serve one another, to love one another, and to fill our neighbors’ physical and spiritual needs – feeding, clothing, comforting one another – just as we would want ourselves to be cared for. This the core of his teaching, and the core of God’s Kingdom.
By seeking to live according to the Will of God, as shown in the life, teachings and death of God's chosen spokesman, Jesus, we grow into the likeness of God, growing more perfect each day.
Jesus' challenging calls to be merciful and live lives of Moral Perfection teach us that we must avoid a lazy, easy religion, and instead seek to be better, more holy, joyful, and Spiritually Complete! (Luke 6:36, Matt. 5:48, John 15:11.)
So, let’s keep striving towards the Perfection Jesus modeled for us to live; a Godly ideal worth striving for!