What Colour is the Bear?
For many people, life makes about as much sense as that question. They muddle through from event to event, never even trying to see a bigger picture.
Life might be a bit like one of those computer generated 3D pictures. At first sight, it looks like a page of random dots and squiggles. But if you can find the right way of looking at it, suddenly the picture comes into view, and it all makes sense.
Religions are ways of looking at life that try to help you make sense. Some of them may try to tell you what the picture is, but the best way is to see it for yourself. A friend will stand beside you as you hold the 3D picture, and say "I do it this way". Thatís what religious communities are for.
So weíd like to share with you our way (the Christian way) of looking at life, so that it makes sense.
God is Love
That may sound like the biggest nonsense statement of them all. After all, if God is love, then why is the world in such a mess? You need to understand what the love of God is like. It isnít controlling, domineering or manipulative. God doesnít force us to do things His way. His love is so great, He will stand back, let us make a mess, and then be there to pick up the pieces, like a caring parent. So God doesnít stop us killing each other, or starving half the world. And thatís why the world is in a mess.
God loves YOU
Godís love isnít just some sort of wishy washy benevolence directed generally at the world. God loves people. Individual people. Including you. God cares about your well-being, wants what is best for you, and cares about the things that you care about. That may seem impossible to believe... that the creator God, source of all life and love is actually interested in the details of your little life. But thousands of people through history have found it to be true. And you can too.
Jesus shows Godís love
The story of Jesus shows us that He was a very special person. The people who met Him felt as if they were talking to God Himself. He said Himself "Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father". When we look at how Jesus treated people, we get some idea of how God loves us. He always had time for people. No-one was too unimportant or insignificant. In fact, Jesus seemed to have special interest in the people that were left out of important society, the poor, the weak and the sick.
You might like to read through the story of Jesus - try Lukeís gospel in your Bible; read it straight through like a novel. What impressions do you get?
t was Jesus' special interest in the poor and weak that got Him into trouble with the authorities. They didnít like His teaching or healing people. Most of all they didnít like the fact that He exposed their hypocrisy and exploitation. So they killed Him. The religious and political leaders got together and had him executed. If Jesus had never lived, He would never have had to die. But we would never have known about Godís love. And the story doesnít end there.
.... and rose again!
God loves Jesus so much that He couldnít bear to let Him stay dead. So He brought Jesus back to life. The stories of the resurrection are mysterious and complicated. But they are all sure of this fact: the grave was empty, and people went on meeting Jesus and talking to Him after Heíd died. Sometimes He could come and go through locked doors, sometimes He was so real He could eat fried fish. Sometimes people had trouble recognising Him - He was different, and yet the same. He didnít just get resuscitated, to go on living and eventually die. He entered a new way of living that is beyond death, and out the other side.
And YOU can too
Assuming God loves Jesus so much, He wouldnít let Him stay dead, and assuming God loves You.... the next step is to realise that God wonít leave you dead either.
Death is a natural part of our life. It is still the ultimate statistic. We have done wonderful things with our science to prolong and improve life. But we still face the fact that we will all have to die sometime.
This way of looking at life says thatís OK, because God loves you, and will make sure that you too enter that new way of living that is beyond death, and out the other side.
So whatís it like?
There are no maps or photographs to tell us that, but Jesus told a number of stories that hint at it. He often talked in terms of a party or a feast. God throwing a big celebration at having the people he loves around Him.
Of course, you can choose to stay outside - in what Jesus calls "outer Darkness" looking in at the party and missing it.
So what do I do now?
God wants two things from us. He wants us to love Him back, and He wants us to love each other. If we do those two things, we are living in Jesusí way. How that applies in our own lives is something we spend our whole life working out
If you would like to try this way of looking at life, you can use this prayer to tell God that you love Him, and ask Jesus (who, you remember, is still alive) to help you.
O God, Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for showing me your love in Jesus.
I want to love you - but I am only human. I know I have not loved you as I should, and have lived as if you were not there.
Please help me to love you with every fibre of my being, as you deserve. Help me to love other people the way you love them.
O Jesus, thank you for facing death and not running away. Thank you for showing me that Love is bigger than death. Please help me to live as you did , loving God and people fully. Please be in my life, guiding and directing me.
So be it.
P.S The bear is white