I often read the ‘blog’ of a bishop in England because he writes some very interesting and helpful stuff. He is often on the radio in the morning and perhaps you have heard him. Here is what he said this morning – I hope that it will be helpful to you.
This is the script of this morning’s Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2 with Sara Cox (and after a nice chat with a couple of Strictly dancers):
Guess whose birthday it is today? OK, yeah, Paris Hilton and swimmer Rebecca Adlington … and probably a few thousand people listening to the programme now – in which case, happy birthday to you.
But, the one I am thinking about is Ed Sheeran. 26 today. How do I know? Well, someone told me he originally comes from Hebden Bridge in my patch of West Yorkshire, and I thought I’d check it out. They’re right … and I noticed that it’s his birthday today.
So, open your ears: I’m going to pause for a thought (which means thinking out loud) about one of his best-known songs – recently nominated for a Grammy. Love yourself is a great command … or invitation. After all, there are plenty of people who don’t love themselves – or don’t believe themselves to be lovable – and who sometimes then find it difficult to love others.
There is a link here that Jesus got in one when he asked his followers to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Actually, he was picking up on a maxim that had already been around for a thousand years or more, but he gave it a new twist – and it goes a bit like this:
Loving yourself can turn you into a narcissist who sees everyone and everything through a lens shaped only like yourself. (Apparently, even leaders of countries are not exempt from this.) This makes me the centre of the world – even other people’s worlds. It isn’t attractive, and it can produce dreadful selfishness.
So, this is why Jesus gets the order right: loving God turns your attention away from needing to justify your own worthiness and focuses on something much more fundamental. I matter because I am made in the image of God. Therefore, I see myself through God’s eyes: infinitely valuable and eternally loved. So, what do I do with this? Well, it turns me outwards to love other people whose value is to be found in the same way. I am loved, therefore I love.
So, Ed has got it right: love yourself, but only once you know you are loved. And then pass it on.
So, happy birthday Ed Sheeran. Have a good one, and may it be filled with love.