I have just recently discovered the genius of G.K. Chesterton and I am looking forward to exploring more of his writing and gleaning from his wealth of knowledge. Some of you, I know, are already familiar with this quote; today I want to expound on it.
First of all, what is "the Christian ideal" that Chesterton refers to? I believe the Christian ideal is Jesus Christ. He is the model we are to imitate. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48 The Lord calls us to nothing less than perfection. Well, now you're looking at Chesterton's quote again and I know what you're thinking. "The Christian ideal!?, it isn't difficult, it's impossible!" Well, I hate to tell you this...., but, you're wrong. If you have been born again you are already on your way to the Christian ideal because through salvation Christ has made it possible. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 The Holy Spirit lives within us and little by little each day is changing us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, the Christian ideal.
So, we have established that it isn't impossible, but it is still difficult. Why? Because we haven't reached that ideal yet and we still live in a fallen world. We can never truly reach the Christian ideal in this world, but we will in the world to come. "So, why even try?", you ask. Jesus said; "Be ye therefore perfect..." He didn't say; "Don't worry about being perfect right now, you have permission to loaf because I'm going to make you perfect when you get to Heaven." 'Be' implies right now. We must strive for perfection now, so that we can make a difference in the world.
"Be ye therefore perfect....." It won't always be easy, most of the time it will be difficult, it might even seem impossible. Jesus promised that; "In this world you will have trouble...", but He also promised; "I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)