To love rightly
THROUGHOUT the teachings of Christ Jesus the theme of ``love thy neighbour as thyself'' is stressed. In Galatians this teaching is summarized: ``For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.''1 How many of us yearn to love as Jesus loved--purely and effectively, compassionately and consistently, universally and impartially! How can we do it? We can begin by following his example as consistently as we are able to, right where we are. For instance, consider how Jesus loved little children. He even rebuked his disciples, who were trying to keep the children away. ``Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God,''2 he said.
Jesus' love for others knew no bounds. It extended to the most ``unlovable'' members of society. Consider that he touched a leper and healed him. He spoke to a Samaritan woman (the Jews had ``no dealings with the Samaritans''3) and so clearly and compassionately discerned her thought that the woman acknowledged that he was the Messiah. Jesus' Christly love transcended inconvenience, repugnance, and judgmental thinking, and he healed every kind of need. What incomparable love!
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of the Master, ``His consummate example was for the salvation of us all, but only through doing the works which he did and taught others to do.'' She continues a little further along, ``He was inspired by God, by Truth and Love, in all that he said and did.''4
Sometimes it's the most difficult to love those who are closest to us because we expect so much from them. We might unconsciously reason, ``No matter what happens at work, socially, in the church or community, even in the world, I know that so-and-so (my husband, wife, sister, brother, mother, father, son, daughter, best friend) will understand me and stand by me.'' But sometimes the one entrusted with this love disappoints us and we are crushed, even bitterly unforgiving. Here is a real test of our love. Can we lift and purify it? Can we express more of the impartial, universal love that Jesus expressed, the love that springs from God Himself, from divine Love--not just in order to redeem the relationship but so that love will always be forthcoming? Can we love this neighbor as ourselves--that is, as we would want to be understood and forgiven?
Here is an opportunity to lift the level of our love to that supreme standard given to us by Jesus in the Golden Rule. He taught, ``All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.''5 Couldn't we infer from this teaching that pure love includes forgiveness?
To know God as Love, and man as Love's expression, enables us to obey the law in our hearts. We're not asked to love what is unlovable. We're not asked to love impurity, hatred, dishonesty, apathy, indifference, and so forth, because these have nothing to do with the man of God's creating. We do need, though, to realize more and more clearly that the true selfhood of ourselves and everyone else is not a sinful mortal but God's blessed spiritual likeness. This is why we can love our neighbor. And when our love springs from this understanding, there's no limit to its healing influence.
1Galatians 5:14. 2Mark 10:14. 3John 4:9. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 51. 5Matthew 7:12. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. . . And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I Corinthians 13:1, 13