What do you think it means to be human?
I have a very simple answer to the meaning of life, and the purpose of it all and it is most brilliantly summarised by Jesus. Jesus says that all the law in the Bible can be summarised in two things. These are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and to love your neighbour as yourself.
So life is all about love.
Sadly none of us really get this. We live in a world in which we frequently fail to love people as we should, and in turn people fail us in this department too. As a consequence, there is a bucket load of suffering and the reality is that there is no one who at some point hasn't known physical and emotional pain.
In my own life I have been very blessed to know a lot of love. I have an awesome family an incredible set of friends, and most importantly for me a relationship with God, who is love, for over two decades now.
Yet amidst all this love I have also known moments of pain. Often, as I've faced my own life and the broken lives of so many people around the world, I am challenged by the way that this pain is symptomatic of something being terribly wrong. That though there is a God, his creation doesn't feel at all as it should be.
To bring it down to a moment in my own life, after a difficult summer I found myself really seeking answers from God, who at the time felt very distant. As I brought a lot of my pains and disappointments to him I was suddenly struck by the way that they were his as much as they were mine.
It is only in Christianity that we find the incredible story of God becoming man. Only in the figure of Jesus does God take on human form. Jesus lived a life that was filled with poverty, sickness, grief, loneliness, rejection and betrayal. He was tempted and tried and even died on a cross. Every time that I bring my story, or the world's story, of pain to God, I find that I am bringing it not to a distant divinity who has turned a blind eye or deaf ear to it all, but whose own heart broke for it so much that he chose to go through it all and lay down his life in order for their to be a hope. In order for their to be healing. To redeem creation and bring it back to his love.
In his story I find the saviour for my own.
Psalm 23 says “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” It uses the image of Jesus as a shepherd, one who knows the way through life the best. It says that if we follow him we will make it through the valleys and our into green pastures. The shepherd knows the way through the valley because it was his literal blood, sweat and tears that carved the path.
When I have brought my hurts, my pains, my brokenness to Jesus, I have only ever been met with unfailing, overwhelming love. He has used my trials to teach me how to lean on him and trust him. In the most bizarre transaction, when we give Jesus our lives, he gives us his perfect one. The cross is the place where God takes our pain and in return gives us peace and hope. Matthew 11 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
To come back to the two greatest commandments. In these two things I find I am called to love a God who loved me first, and to share that love. His love never fails, he holds me no matter what. He has demonstrated the extremes of his love by laying his life down for me. The innocent for the guilty. As I have made him my constant companion he has been transforming me and healing me. His love takes brokenness and makes it exceptionally beautiful. There really is no greater love than this.