I have been sitting on this for a long time now. Much prayer, bible research and consulting with fellow believers have happened in regards to this subject and I do feel I have come to a conclusion on the matter.
Let us start with this scripture in Matthew 5:48 (NIV):
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Now, this scripture can be quoted, but sometimes it leads into "......and so must your life be perfect, or else you are not trusting in God enough." So with this mindset, if something comes into my life, let's just use Cancer as an example here, then if I am diagnosed with Cancer it is my fault somehow that this is happening to me. That I don't trust God enough. Please note that this is the same type of talk that Job's friends laid out on him and God was displeased with them. God even had Job pray and make sacrifices on their behalf because they were wrong, and were just feeding Job lies and deception.
This mindset can also set people up for disappointment. They think that their life here should be perfect, so when something happens (like a car accident, sickness, etc.) they condemn themselves that they weren't good enough for God. Or worse, they could even blame God.
But this leads me to another scripture, one that Jesus spoke, in John 16:33 (NIV)
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
We can have peace and confidence in God no matter what we are going through. God looks at our heart, and wants us to make the right choices while we are here in this life. Jesus tells us that this world, the fallen creation, will give us trouble. But He has given us peace to go through it. His grace is sufficient.
So after much prayer, I have come to the solid conclusion that the "PERFECT" scripture simply means what it says. It means for me to be perfect. Period. How I handle things, decisions I am to make, how I am living my life, etc. Those are things that I am able to control and have a choice about. I am to live my life with the guidance of God's Holy Spirit and to love and trust in God with my whole heart. To allow God's peace to overcome my anxiety, depression, fears, etc.
Jesus did not have a perfect life here on Earth. But he handled His life perfectly. Even though he was falsely imprisoned, ridiculed, beaten, betrayed and crucified, He handled it perfectly. He did not curse God, denounce God, choose sin or any of the like. It wasn't WHAT He was going through, but HOW He was going through it that made Him perfect.
Now, let us back up to another scripture that is right before that first one I quoted. Go to Matthew 5:45 (NIV):
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
This tells us right here that blessings (God's sun) can fall on the righteous believer AND ALSO the non-believer. And the opposite is true that cursings (God's rain) can fall on both, too. So while we are in this world, under the new covenant, it does not matter what comes our way in this life. What does matter, is our heart. How are we living our life and going through our circumstances? With His peace? With a trusting heart? With faith? With Him?
There are many other scriptures that can turn this into a novel. Just a few of them that you can research yourself are:
1Peter 1:6 and
This is just three (out of many) examples of the early believers not having a perfect life,
but they were perfect in God's sight.
The disciples lives were not perfect when judging only their circumstances. They were stoned, beaten, murdered, imprisoned, etc. Jesus' life was not perfect either if you based it solely on WHAT He was going through. So what gave us the idea that we are to have better lives than they did? We can all be perfect in HOW we handle our circumstances, but to say that we will be immune to any nose sniffle, stubbed toe or flat tire is living in a mindset that needs to broken.
...Yes, I was throwing out some sarcasm there about the stubbed toe stuff, but if one thinks that NOTHING bad should happen in their life, then that includes EVERYTHING that isn't good. So a stubbed toe, getting the flu, spraining an ankle, etc. wouldn't ever be classified as good stuff, right? So where is the line drawn if you have that mindset? Cancer, bad. Stuffy nose, good. Broken bone, bad. Sprained ankle, good. This is very dangerous ground to be walking on, thinking like a self-righteous judge. So here I will bring it to a close.
Recommended readings on this subject:
Frank Viola / The Untold Story of the New Testament
--the disciples went through trials
William Young / The Shack
--we live in a fallen world
Don Francisco / Give Your Heart A Home
--God can help your heart no matter what you are going through
Keith Green / Create In Me A Clean Heart
--It is a matter of our heart, that is where our choice for heaven is