1 John 4.7-8 The Message
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know God if you don’t love.
A Word of Hope
Today is Organize Your Home Day. Organization is big business. In a society that tells us we need more, more, more, book after book on “systems” for a well-organized home, stores dedicated solely to things to help us make our homes tidy, and several reality TV shows whose plots focus on society’s inability to organize all of our stuff abound. When I walk through the “home organization” aisles of a store, I often become overwhelmed. There is a box, a basket, a shelf, a hook, a specialized container for everything. In theory, this sounds great…a place for everything and everything in its place. But, on the occasions when I have succumbed to one of these “helpful” items, I get home and realize that it doesn’t fit in the space I thought it would or it doesn’t hold my stuff quite the way I had hoped. It just doesn’t work the way I had envisioned.
Trying to find the perfect container for God has much the same outcome. Many search for that container only in the form of organized religion, in a church. Organized religion is characterized by doctrine, hierarchical structure, and shared prescribed rules and rituals, things that theoretically should help us keep our spiritual lives neat and tidy. These, however, are human constructs and are not always of God or for God. When doctrine and authority and rituals are used to hurt people, the religion is no longer of God. Christ was not sent to create strife in the world, or to draw lines between “us” and “them,” or to build an empire unto himself. Christ came only to conquer the world with love, a love offered everyone. Negative experiences in the church are much like the disappointing organizational tools in which I had such hope. God and the love of God cannot be contained in doctrine and dogma created by humans.
Why is it so hard for us to figure this out? People continually try to find that perfect container for God – the basket that fits on THAT shelf, the hook that will hold just enough weight, the jar with the spill-proof lid but is transparent so we can see inside, the perfect church. None of these will work.
The only container that will hold God perfectly is our heart. It is big enough. It is the right shape. It will always fit where we intend to place it. It is the one container that we can keep filling and never have to clean out because there is always room for more love. A church becomes the place where we house our containers. It needs to be a safe place for our hearts.
May I always make a place for love in my heart, an immeasurable amount of love for my God and a God-like love for all peoples. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare