Many of you will remember a time growing up when in school we had a little book of questions and answers about our religion that was called the Catechism.
One of the first questions in that little book was, who made us? The answer of course is ‘God. The next question that was a little more difficult for both adults as much as children: But who is God? The answer is ‘God is Love’. It took a long time for the people to realize this but if there is one sentence that sums up the entire Bible it would have to be ‘God is Love’ and because he has made us in Love, we are called to love one another. That is how we fulfill our highest purpose.
So if God made us and He is Love them what does that make us, or to put the question another way, if love makes us then we are both made in love and our nature is to love.
That brings me to the third question on that old catechism that was, ‘Why did God make us,’ and the answer was to know, love and to serve Him.
So keeping it very simple. We are made to love simply because we are love. The Bible says we are made in the image and likeness of God so in our deepest place we are all made of love and for love.
This all sounds very simple but this is the hard part. We are made in love and our deepest call is to love so it’s when we are most loving that we are most happy and when we are not loving we make ourselves miserable. A lady I know who gives lots of talks of a spiritual nature was asked recently if she always practiced what she preached. She replied ‘When I do my life is happy but when I don’t I am miserable.’ That would be true for all of us.
So what are some of the ways we can make ourselves unhappy? Put another way what are the ways we refuse to be who we really are by acting in ways that are unloving. Nearly all of us here grew up with a three letter word for being unloving. We called it SIN which could stand for Self Inflicted Nonsense.
The first person we inflict with our non-sense is ourselves. We are often very unloving towards ourselves. We can be quite harsh critical and judgmental whereas Jesus invites us to be our own best friend. Its when we are unloving towards ourselves that we end up behaving in very unloving ways like being:
Hard to live with, being exacting and expecting too much.
Being harsh or judgmental or critical of others.
Finding ourselves very irritable and impatient. Flying off the handle so easily.
Finding it hard to admit when I’m wrong.
Being very intolerant of other peoples mistakes.
Not being a forgiving person. Holding grudges for a long time.
Being cross and expect others to be as I expect them to be.
I have here a rather tattered brown paper bag. It could represent any one of us since we all are that bit tattered. But there is also the part of us that is created by God that is like a priceless diamond, that’s the part that is love. The diamond that we are gets rolled in the mud of life and so often all we see is the mud. However underneath the mud the diamond is always there just waiting to be discovered. Unfortunately so many of us so identify both ourselves and others just as the tattered paper bag and forget about the diamond that is on the inside.
Now it has to be said that some paper bags are better looking than others but its what’s inside that matters and not what’s on the outside. So next time you think of yourself don’t just look at the mud know that there’s a diamond underneath. Similarly when you find someone you don’t like, remember that beneath all the tattered appearance there is something very precious and that’s what I’m called to love. The reality is we don’t like everyone but just because we don’t like what we see is no excuse to act in a manner that is unloving.