Monday, October 21, 2019

Why God wants us to love him with all our hearts, mind and soul.

I walked past a young lady who was wearing a T-shirt with a rather interesting phrase emblazoned across the front the other day.  It said, “I’m not just an original.  I am a limited edition”.  

At first glance, I thought it was quite catchy, for the most part.  After all, this kind of talk appeals to the current generation of trendsetters who all want to be original in their own ways.  Apparently, being original just isn’t enough.  There seems to be a need to be a “limited edition” – a one-of-a-kind.

I get it.  I think this mentality describes what lies in the heart of many an inventor, playwright, poet, songwriter, and artist of different mediums.  This must be the stuff and energy that has given itself over to the many wonderful paintings, classical symphonies, literary masterpieces worthy of Pulitzer, Booker and Nobel prizes, and the myriad architectural wonders around the world. In the field of the sciences, it must have been what pushed scientists and researchers to make those incredible and amazing breakthroughs to find innovative ways to treat and even cure illnesses and to deal with deadly viruses.  If all humanity was merely contented to exist with the ordinary and “garden variety” of life’s challenges, there would be little of the flourishing that makes life not just good and functional, but truly astounding and breathtaking.

There is a downside to this though. If we think that only those who are high achievers and attain stratospheric goals in life are worthy of our admiration and attention, we may then think that in our spiritual lives, God only notices and pays attention to them, and not to the rest of humankind, and that includes the likes of you and me. 

But when we think this way, we are the ones who are the real losers, especially when we erroneously think that our own individual, ordinary and garden-variety lives are somewhat too ordinary and not quite spectacular enough to make a difference to the world and even to God.  It may make us think that our little, unnoticed and unspectacular lives are too humdrum for others to take notice, and the spotlight will always go to others and never to us.  Our lives seem to be in sepia tone, whilst that of others is lived in brilliant Technicolor. 

I see this negativity played out in many of the youth who strive so hard to become noticed, to be different, because they think that their lives are uninteresting, whilst the lives of their peers and those who are more noticed, have more Instagram and FaceBook likes, or who bag more As or A-Stars on their exam results.  

But this is far from the truth, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives.  Every single one of us is important and individually and uniquely loved by God.  Jesus conveys this reality by saying that even the hairs of our head are all numbered. God doesn’t just love human beings or humanity.  He loves each one of his created children individually as if each one was his only child. And only God can love this way.  

If we bring nothing else to prayer but only this as our point of meditation, it will help us go very far in living out our relationship of love with God.  It also means that God doesn’t only love us when we are good, but that we are good because he loves us.  And if that is true, then it makes great sense that it is possible to love God with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul.  It is possible to consecrate every aspect of our lives to live in such a way that we glorify God with everything that we do, even the most mundane and insignificant tasks – things that no one gets any recognition or accolades for doing well, let alone for doing them at all.  

To really understand and live this out is indeed very liberating and freeing.  It frees us from the endless need to compare and to compete, to crane for attention and to make ourselves liked or loved by putting on all sorts of false fronts and endless posed selfies.  It certainly doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for excellence in all that we do, but the motivation isn’t then to get noticed at all, but to be as fruitful as we can be given our composite talents, gifts and strengths. It wouldn’t be to glorify ourselves, but God.  And the amazing thing is that once God is glorified in and through our lives, the glory that he receives really redounds to us, and the blessing circle continues. 

The problem with so many of us is that we think of humility so wrongly.  We think that it is about thinking of and concentrating less of ourselves when it really is about thinking of and concentrating on ourselves less.  We are far too self-conscious for our own good.  

Indeed, not only are we all originals, each of us is also a limited edition, a one-of-a-kind.  

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