Do you ever stop to think what you would like on your gravestone when you are dead? It’s a good way of finding out what we really want to be like. I don’t think any of us would like to see phrases like:
“Always selfish and greedy”
“Never had time for anyone else”
“Vindictive and hateful”
When we see a new baby, at a christening who would want to think that the baby would grow up to be a thief, or to have a string of husbands who she cheated on and deserted, or to be a child molester.
We know deep down that we want to be good.
In the 11th century, Anselm of Canterbury described how being good is possible through ‘goodness’, and how supreme goodness is God. So that desire to be good is actually us wanting to be like God (supreme goodness), to act like God, to be in his image.
St John’s describes in his gospel that God is love. So when we love one another, our love is possible through love, which is through God. We are choosing to act like God, to be part of God.
Each of us has the essence of goodness in us, and the essence of love in us. God is goodness and God is love, so we all have God within us. Sometimes we choose to ignore goodness and love, and instead choose to be selfish, vindictive or hateful. But that is not what we want to be – as we found at the start of this post.
The true Christian religion is about helping us to be what we want to be – good and loving. It is about connecting with that goodness and love within us; God within us. It is about learning from Christ what goodness and love looks like, and trying to imitate him.
And if you want to be good and loving, then that means that you want to be like God. Jesus said that ‘if you have seen me then you have seen God’; Jesus represented supreme goodness and love in human form. So if you want to be good and loving, since Jesus was supremely good and loving, then you want to be like Jesus, and if you want to be like Jesus you can call yourself a Christian.
Christians pray to help make that connection with goodness and love. Here’s an example of a Celtic prayer from Lindisfarne:
Help me dear Lord to care too much
To love too freely
To pray unceasingly
To forgive endlessly
To laugh fearlessly
To be who I am
To be where I am
To be what I am
To reach out my hand
That’s a good prayer, isn’t it? It’s about connecting with God within us. It’s asking God to help us be who we want to be.
Do you want to be the sort of person that the prayer describes? You can take a step closer by praying that prayer.