After many years of negotiations, my family got a new kitten. Our two-year-old named her Youkie. It was suppose to be Jovie (like from Elf), but Youkie sounded too cute to pass up.
About the time Youkie arrived, I was preparing to preach from Jude 2, which says, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Well, the best thing about owning a kitten (at least for a preacher) is it’s like owning a sermon illustration library in the form of a furball with claws. The worst part is a tossup between the allergies and changing kitty litter, but that’s a post for another day.
In the sermon I wanted to press home how God is continually pouring out mercy, peace, and love upon his people (multiplying it, Jude says), but that, rather than receiving it and benefiting from it, far too often we refuse it.
This is where Youkie assisted me. When she first came, that little cat didn’t like me or anyone else in my family. She was hostile and afraid and wasn’t going to wag her tail or purr for anyone. She hated our house, she hated the toys we got her, and she even hated the food we put out for her to eat. She ran from us (especially the two-year-old) like we were lighting her on fire.
However, the more we tried to demonstrate our mercy, peace, and love, the more she ran and hid. We do the same thing with the Lord. His mercy, peace, and love are ever available and flooding from heaven (and from the cross), but we are prone to run and hide.
God’s grace to us can and will change us for the good, and it is always available, but we need to receive it and appropriate it into our lives. I often hear people say, “I know God loves me, but I’m just not feeling it,” or “I know God gives peace that passes understanding, but I have no peace of mind.” Like Youkie, the problem does not lie with God, but with us.
Eventually, I’m glad to report, Youkie did begin to accept our signs of affection. She finally realized how nice it is to get free food and be safe from wild animals. The whole petting thing finally clicked with her, and she realized that she likes it. Now she can’t get enough! She is happy, peaceful, playful, and a little bundle of joy. Mercy, peace, and love have done their work.
Imagine what life would be like if we received every ounce and drop of God’s grace to us! Imagine if we constantly trusted his mercy, rested in his peace, and enjoyed his never-ending love. No doubt we would be very happy people.
If you want to hear the entire Youkie sermon (the illustration is actually at the very end), you can access it here. I can’t wait to see what our little kitten will do next!