I was probably 9 or 10 when I first discovered Lego, as opposed to the soft plastic bricks that I had been playing with up to that time. Even though Lego had been around for 20 years it was only introduced in Canada in the early sixties. But even after I discovered the joys of Lego I didn’t realize that you could actually buy kits with instruction manuals to help you build them.
Which kind of seems like cheating to me.
In 1964 the first Lego kit was introduced and you could build a cowboy and pony.
Since then the sky has been the limit when it comes to Lego Kits, from most of the world’s great landmarks, think the London Bridge and Eiffel Tower right up to most of the Star Wars fleet. But the biggest kit that had ever been produced was the Taj Mahal set which contains almost 6,000 pieces.
Well move over Taj Mahal, early this month Lego released a new Millennium Falcon set which contains 7,541 pieces. And it can be yours for only 799.99 American. And Luke said it was a piece of junk.
And the reality is that what allows you to take a pile of randomly shaped, sized and coloured bricks and create sometime like the Taj Mahal or the Millennium Falcon is their ability to connect with one another.
This Fall our series at Cornerstone has been “Connect” and we’ve been looking at how we are to connect.
And so in week one we looked at how we were created to connect. To connect with God, to connect with creation and to connect with others.
Last week we went a little deeper in connecting with our creator and looked at how we connect by talking to God, by praising God, by listening to God and by trusting God.
This week I want to look at connecting with the created, that’s us.
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment his answer is found in Mark 12:29-31 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
And most of us are familiar with the concept of the greatest commandment, Love God and Love others. And most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule, not the one that says “He who has the gold makes the rules”, but the one that Jesus taught when he said Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
But the premise of both of these is the same, love others as you love yourself. So, at the core you first need to have a love for yourself. That almost seems wrong and selfish. Love ourselves? We are supposed to love our spouses, and love our children and love God and love others, we aren’t supposed to love ourselves. Or are we?
Because, can we really love others without loving ourselves?
Author Ayn Rand wrote “To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.”
The reality is that you will only be able to love who you are when you finally connect with yourself.
The phrase “Know thyself” has been around for thousands of years, it’s been attributed to both Plato and Socrates, and it really doesn’t matter who said it first, the truth of the statement is that we each need to know who we are in order to connect. To connect with God and to connect with others begins with connecting with ourselves.
So to know ourselves we Need to Know that We Were Created by God This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my messages lately. To know ourselves is to know that we aren’t simply an accident or an oops. And that’s important, to know we were created to be here.
We not the result of a single cell creature that accidental evolved from the primordial sludge millions of years ago. Instead we are the creation of a loving creator.
3000 years ago David wrote in Psalm 139:13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
And maybe you find it difficult to celebrate how God created you. Seriously, I have a theory that when people with a healthy self-esteem look in the mirror their reaction is, “Meh, not bad.”
They are neither the ones who look in the mirror and hate what they see, nor the ones who think the one looking back at them is perfect. “Meh, not bad.” Unless it 4:30 on a Sunday morning, then it’s just scary.
And to the point, I think most of us would be willing to change how we were designed if we had the chance. If I was creating Denn, he would have longer legs, thicker hair a thinner body and the voice of James Earle Jones. But I wasn’t asked so “Meh, not bad.”
Tennessee Williams wrote “There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
Or, there is another option, when we connect as a Christ Follower and understand that we were created by the God of the Universe then we can say as David did in the next verse of Psalm 139, Psalm 139:14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
And if you are still struggling with who you are then here’s something to think about. You are a walking talking miracle, only God could have made you what you are. Engineers have never been able to come close to devising a machine equal to God’s supreme achievement, which is you.
Every minute of our lives the heart pumps over five litres of blood through our bodies, that’s over 300 litres of blood an hour, 7,200 litres of blood a day through a network of 96,000 km of arteries, veins and capillaries.
You represent on the average, 5 million hairs, 20 sq. Feet of skin, 650 muscles, 206 bones, as a matter of fact there are enough bones in the body that if you put them all together you’d have a complete skeleton, 100 joints and over 13 million nerve cells.
Within you there is enough fat for four cakes of soap, enough lime to white wash a small shed, the carbon equivalent of 14 kilos of coal, enough phosphorus to make 2,200 matches, enough iron for a 1 inch nail and for good measure a spoonful of sulphur and 28 grams of various metals other than iron.
In the course of your life time you will eat 45,400 kilos of food, drink 45,000 litres of liquid and walk about 24,000 km.
As a matter of fact, Life Gem, an Illinois company, says it can turn cremated remains into diamonds. They remove the carbon, turn it into graphite and simulate the conditions that create a diamond, and voila you are now a diamond weighing in at about a quarter caret. Guess it was true about you being a diamond in the rough.
You are not a mistake, or a goof or an accident, you are a divine creation, spoke into being by the same God who fashioned the great barrier reef who molded the Rocky Mountains with his hands, scooped out the Grand Canyon with his fingers and cast the milky way into the night sky.
To question the creator or to belittle his creation is pretty close to blaspheme. You say “But preacher I’m not very tall, or very athletic, or very pretty, and I don’t sing as well as Evie or play guitar like Shawn.” Me neither, but I’m not Evie or Shawn.
Have you ever watched God doodle in the evening sky with a sunset? And as you stood there and marveled at the master’s hand in nature? Have you ever shouted to the heavens, “Hey, you could use a little more purple in the back and the oranges aren’t quite as bright as they could be”? Of course not.
Every one of us is as unique as a sunset, and each one of us is precious to God because of our uniqueness, because he is the one who made us unique. Which has to rank more than a “Meh, not bad.”
But God didn’t just create us and forget us. John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
So to know ourselves we Need to Know that We are Loved by God Last week I spoke about how the first couple deliberately disobeyed God. And how that caused a break in our relationship with God.
But God loved us so much he wasn’t willing to let us go.
Now you know as well as I do that the world is a big place, and it’s got a lot of people, at last count there were 7,576,592,610… 11…12…13…14 Anyway there are a lot of people out there and sometimes we divide God’s love by that number and we think well that doesn’t leave very much for me.
But dividing God’s love isn’t like splitting a pizza. Because with God’s love there is as much love there for me, or for you as there is for the entire world.
We could read John 3:16 “For God loved Denn so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that if Denn believes in him then Denn will not perish but have eternal life. And not only did he love me that much but he loved you that much too.
You need to be able to look in the mirror and say, “For God so loved me, that he gave his one and only son.” Maybe we would do well to start off the morning singing “Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me the bible tells me so.”
Can you imagine a king loving you so much that they would willingly give up their throne and live as a commoner for thirty-three years and then would willing die in your place?
A pretty awesome thought isn’t it. The world stood in awe at the power of love when Edward the Eighth abdicated the throne of England because of his love for Wallis Simpson. But the sacrifice he made for his love was minute compared to the love of God for each one of us.
From the beginning of time sin has separated man from his God, and man has sought to bridge that gap through rules, and regulations, through offerings and sacrifices. The prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Because no matter how good we are, we are never good enough. And we end up like a dog chasing our tails.
And into that confusion stepped God Almighty in human form, and the bible tells us that he took our sins on himself, and he paid the price. A price that we could never pay on our own. A price that he paid willingly. Titus 3:4-6 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
And in 1 John 4:10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
You are so special that Jesus Christ came to this earth and lived and died so that you could be saved, so that you could have eternal life.
He’s your creator and he wants to be your saviour, but it goes further than that because John the apostle tells us in John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Now that is a gift, the right to become the children of God. You are so special to God, that he gave you the right to become a child of His, the right to say “My father created the universe, he is the master of everything, he is almighty God.”
Do you realise how special you need to be to be offered the keys to the kingdom of God?
What if Queen Elizabeth phoned you tomorrow and said, “I’m really disappointed with Chuck, Anne, Andy and Eddie and so I would really like for you to become my child. Everything I have is yours, you will be the heir to my throne, all my power, all my resources everything I have will be yours”?
What would your reaction be? Not interested. Oh come on, think about it, fishing in the highlands, driving around in expensive cars.
It would be a lot like my job, except for the fishing in the highlands and driving around in expensive cars.
Now the chances of that happening are pretty slim. But God is offering you that, he’s offering to let you be his child, with all the perks that go along with it. Why? Because he loves us.
Are you getting a better picture of who you are? Created and loved by the God of the universe.
We need to understand the words of Marianne Williamson who wrote “Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, . . . ‘Know thyself’ is not a narcissistic pursuit.”
So, what are the results of connecting with yourself?
First of all, You will have More Joy When you connect with yourself as a Christian and realize that you are not an accident and you are loved then it’s easier to find happiness and joy in that.
Paul reminded the early church in Romans 4:7-8 “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.”
And if you are living a life without joy as a Christian it may be because even though you may have claimed the forgiveness that God offers you haven’t actually accepted it.
You keep going back to those mistakes, and bad choices that you made in your past. Please stop it, if you God can forgive you please forgive yourself. Your sins have been forgiven, they’ve been put out of sight, your record has been cleared. Because God loves you.
But connecting with yourself not only gives you the assurance that your past has been dealt with, it gives you the assurance that you can now live as a Christ Follower.
When you connect with yourself as a Christian and realize that you are not an accident and that God loves you then You Will Be Able to Resist Temptation To hear some people it seems that they believe that God sets them up to fail.
That the reason they make bad choices is because God has put them in or allowed them to be put in situations where they have to sin.
But God has set us up to succeed not to fail.
Listen to what the word of God promises us, 1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
God created you, he knows all about you, he knows about your weaknesses and about your desires and yet his word says that He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. And because he loves you, when you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
And when you connect with yourself you discover and understand what pushes your buttons, you discover your weaknesses and your strengths. And you know the places, people and situations that you need to avoid.
And you discover that don’t have to make bad choices, there is always a good choice that you can make.
When you connect with yourself as a Christian and realize that you are not an accident and that God loves you then You Will Have More Tolerance for Others
This goes back to loving others as you love yourself. When you are aware of your own weakness and struggles that will help you empathize with others.
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was known as one of the five good Emperors and in his writings he said “Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
And we will only have that awareness when we know ourselves and have connected with who we are.
John Bradford was an English preacher and reformer who lived five hundred years ago, it is said that once when Bradford saw a group of prisoners being led away to their execution that he said, “There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford”
Bradford knew himself.
And ultimately it’s not just Joy about our forgiveness and the ability to live our Christian life that we have, Jesus reminds us in John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
When you connect with yourself as a Christian and realize that you are not an accident and that God loves you then You Will Have More Peace
It is the peace that comes from knowing your beginning. That is knowing that you aren’t an accident, that there is a design and a plan. And it’s also the peace that comes from knowing the end, what happens when the story of this life is over.
John wrote to those who were following Christ 2000 years ago assuring them in 1 John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.
You’ve heard me say this before John Wesley is reported to have once said “The world can say what they like about us Methodist, but they have to admit: we die well.”
That’s because we have the peace of knowing we were created and loved by God.