The fairy tale about Goldilocks and the three Bears, at its very simplest, is a commentary on don’t take what is not yours, don’t enter a home that is not yours just because it is unlocked and don’t act as if the world is just there for the taking.
We know her approach, as she tries out the food, the seating and the sleeping arrangements. Too soft vs too hard, too little vs too big and of course, too hot vs too cold: and amongst all these options is ‘just right’. Goldilocks makes choices, has responses, based on her assessment, her experiences; as she sits, eats and rests.
Over my lengthening 55 years on the planet, I have been blessed to attend and mix with people from many, many faith groups. I count dear friends amongst many, many variations of Christendom, of those who see faith outside the Christian experience such as Muslim and Jew; along with more than a smattering of those who see faith as an even more personal and spiritual journey than cannot be captured by a label, grouping or collective – they just simply believe.
Goldilocks, whilst involved in what is best described as a ‘break and enter’, engaged in an assessment of her surrounds, in the context of her needs and then moved through a series of responses that she determined were right for her. She kept it pretty simple really.
I am not someone who succumbs to melancholy easily, but we all do to some degree at some time in our lives. What can tip me in that direction though, is trying to wrap my head around how complex humans endeavour to make the love of Christ. How much effort is spent endeavouring to characterise it in such a fashion as to encase it, like a long lost artefact in a bullet proof glass case; so that it is visible, but not truly accessible.
When faith manifests in our consciousness as an idea, a concept, a belief, that we seek to have as a part of our existence, then we enter into the space of stimuli:response.
The Gospel, the story of Christ, His love, His sacrifice, His promises, His guidance; when we allow our hearts and minds to stitch His presence into our purpose, this is where stimuli and response kick in. We each get to that point through different journeys; some emerge into a relationship with Him from a young age, others much later and some, not until their closing days on this earth, or ever. The scriptures show us that His love is a patient love: for that I am so personally grateful.
What prompts my melancholy is the unnecessary complication of Christ’s love for us that mankind creates: His love is not earned, it’s learned. His love is not owed, it’s offered. His love… is. Uncomplicated. Unconditional.
In Galatians 5:22-23, there is an amazing list of attributes of those that claim the love of Christ, they are called the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Today I am rebranding them ‘Heaven’s Fingerprints’: believing is being, not boasting. Or perhaps I can say it another way, ‘walking the talk’ or ‘actions speak louder than words’ or perhaps even, ‘what you say, plus what you do, equals who you are’.
If the faith stimuli of Christ in our lives; how can we not then respond with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If the stimuli we say is the basis of our faith worldview is Christ; how can we not then respond with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If we claim the desire to be His hands and feet; how can we not then live this out with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 is not a complex list. This is not a complex equation, stimuli:response.
His love:Our life.
This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.