(my BBC Radio 2 Pause For Thought with Vanessa Feltz on February 12th 2021... the weekly theme for the weekend that is in it was The Power Of Love)
We live in a world where the first are first. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Imagine some lazy student scoring 27 in their finals and getting a First while a diligent student gets 86 and is failed. We go to court to maintain the justice of the first being first!
Everywhere we look - sport, the arts, politics, business - the first are first.
It is the same in our own lives. If want to find a place, feel accepted, loved if you like. Everything is achieved. Even romantic love is about looks or fashion or sense of cool. The first are always first.
That makes it a graceless world. Gracelessness is powerful. It leads to insecurities, inferiority complexes and all kinds of feelings that could bring us down. The first are first seems right BUT might be the wrong thing for our mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Imagine though the world that Jesus was conjuring up. He spoke about a world where the first were last and the last were first. Now that is upside down. Perhaps more than a little bit unfair but maybe a real relief to all our striving and struggling.
There are many kinds of love. My fellow Belfast man CS Lewis named 4 and I am not sure he got them all. For me the most powerful is Jesus idea of grace. In his radical way of looking at the world you don’t need to achieve or be first or best looking to be recognised or loved. You are loved. Just as you are.
Grace fuels forgiveness, energises compassion for the poor, can break down barriers with enemies. Grace forgives.
Before all this it is personal. Grace is that Christian idea that God’s love is a gift, not earned. It loves us as we are and in that has the power to transform us into who we can be.
It is not just a Christian idea. Disney believes it too. In the classic film Beauty and The Beast the Beast only becomes beautiful when he knows that he is loved in his ugliness. By grace the last became first. Powerful!