Gregory of Nyssa - On Perfection
It's clear by now that I'm very interested in Gregory of Nyssa, the Fourth Century bishop and theologian. My absolute favourite of his writings is On Perfection. It's been referred to Gregory's Christology, and this is because he goes to great lengths to display how the name "Christian" is derived from "Christ", and so the characteristics of a Christian are those that we see in Christ. Here is a selection of some of this work. I hope you see why I love his writing so much.
Therefore, since, thanks to our good Master, we are sharers of the greatest and the most divine and the first of names, those honored by the name of Christ being called Christians, it is necessary that there be seen in us also all of the connotations of this name, so that the title be not a misnomer in our case, but that our life be a testimony of it. Being something does not result from being called something. The underlying nature, whatever it happens to be, is discovered through the meaning attached to the name... It is necessary, then, for those calling themselves after Christ, first of all, to become what the name implies, and, then, to adapt themselves to the title.
The marks of the true Christian are all those we know in connection with Christ. Those that we have room for we imitate, and those which our nature does not approximate by imitation, we reverence and worship. Thus, it is necessary for the Christian life to illustrate all the interpretative terms signifying Christ, some through imitation, others through worship.
And if we recognise Christ as 'sanctification' (1 Cor 1:30), in whom every action is steadfast and pure, let us prove by our life that we ourselves stand apart, being ourselves true sharers of His name, coinciding in deed and not [only] in word with the power of his sanctification.
But, if anyone is truly 'the temple of God,' (1 Cor 3:16) containing no idol or shrine of evil in himself, this person is given a share in the Godhead by the Mediator having become pure through the reception of His purity.And one for Salvationists...
How blessed is he who is drawn up under the divine generalship and enlisted in the ranks of the thousands and thousands of men armed against evil with virtues which are imprinted with the image of the king.
This, therefore, is perfection in the Christian life in my judgment, namely, the participation of one's soul and speech and activities in all of the names by which Christ is signified, so that the perfect holiness, according to the eulogy of Paul, is taken upon oneself in 'the whole body and soul and spirit,' (1 Thess 5:23) continuously safeguarded against being mixed with evil.
Let us struggle, therefore, against this very unstable element of our nature, engaging in a close contest with our opponent... not becoming victors by destroying our nature, but by not allowing it to fall.
Let no one be grieved if he sees in his nature a penchant for change. Changing in everything for the better, let him exchange 'glory for glory' (2 Cor 3:18), becoming greater through daily increase, ever perfecting himself, and never arriving too quickly at the limit of perfection. For this is truly perfection: never to stop growing towards what is better and never placing any limit on perfection.