We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4. 19
Yesterday morning in Broadford Church we enjoyed a guest preacher, David Renwick, recently retired minister of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington DC. David's theme was Follow the Leader and he spoke about shepherds and examples of great leaders from the Bible - Moses and David - culminating in Jesus, The Good Shepherd and how he earns the title by laying down his life for his sheep. And then he asked about people who changed the way we live, either generally through inventing something - like the internet - or personally by taking a special interest in us. He gave as an example the Elementary School teacher who told a nerdy youth called Bill Gates that it was "OK to read a book". According to Gates himself, that affirmation gave him the confidence upon which his whole career was built.
We look on in awe and, strangely, may feel discouraged because we are unlikely to wield such influence ourselves. But that is where faith is liberating. It provides an alternative - or, rather, a greater - frame of reference, in which the world and the future are not governed by competitively driven human achievement but by the initiative of the Creator himself, to whom we are graciously invited to respond by living faithfully. The best example of what that looks like is the picture which Genesis 1 and 2 paints of Adam and Eve's relationship with God in the Garden of Eden before The Fall. The point here is that Shalom, that state of perfect peace for which we all long, is not gained by what we make of life ourselves; it is God's gift to those who love him and live according to his ways. As the apostle John points out: "We love because God first loved us."