Not a faith of rules but of perfect love

Posted: 25 September 2011

For many of us – myself included – we can say easily and without much thought “I trust in God”, but in reality how many of us really do, and to what extent? There are some beautiful words from Christ in chapter seven of Saint Matthew’s Gospel:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your son asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”

These are the very words of Christ, the Son of God and God Himself. They should fill us with great hope. If we cannot believe these words deep within our being, then there are no words we can believe. Admittedly, these words are not easy. Yes, they are easy when everything is going as we desire but when life turn sour or when our plans tend to differ from God’s, it is then that we face the temptation to turn and walk our own way. Essentially all sin and all vice is us deciding to walk our own way. It is us not trusting that God’s only desire is to provide for us out of His love.

We think we know what will make us happy, well actually, we do know what will make us happy, it is to be loved and to give love in return. What we are not so clear on, is working out how to love rightly in every situation. If God really is the personally loving God that Jesus Christ told us about then should we not be willing to hand our whole lives and its direction to him? If we do not constantly come back to God as a God of love and learn from Him, then we will begin to see Him and all of Christianity and her teachings as merely rules given by a harsh taskmaster.

All this talk of trusting in God though is an unachievable ideal, if we do not incorporate the grace of God into our life. The secular world says that all you need to be happy is within, but this is wrong, or at least, it is incomplete. We are creatures, wonderfully made creatures, but still only creatures and fallen ones at that. We struggle to do what we know we should do. Our desire and our will are often in conflict. The only way to perfection, to reach the plan of God for our life, is with sanctifying grace. You might say to yourself, “I will be ok, I just need to toughen up” but without grace you will fail as certain as the sun will rise tomorrow.

We must ask for God’s grace every day, if necessary we must pray for the desire to desire God’s grace. There is a popular image of Christ standing at a door knocking but the door has no handle. The door represents our hearts. The Lord stands and knocks but he will not force entry into our lives, only we can open the door to the Lord, and we can be assured that the moment we do, his grace will come flooding in. It is primarily in the sacraments that we receive this grace; these are the channels of blessing that Christ left for us. Frequent Holy Communion and Confession will feed and purify our souls. We should cling to the sacraments like we would to a life vest in the ocean. St Augustine once wrote, “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you”. This needs to be our plan for life.

Christ said “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect”. He would not have set us such a high goal if we were not given the means to do it. Let us never forget we are the creatures of a God of love, a God who loved us so much that he died, not for humanity as some general concept, but for you and for me personally. The only way to our true happiness is through God’s plan. Sometimes God’s plan is difficult but there is no reward without a struggle, no crown without a cross. When we unite ourselves to the cross of Christ our burdens are lifted and we will find the happiness we desire.