RECENTLY there has been a lively debate over terminology that would divide women between those whose primary commitment is their children and those who have careers outside the home. The other day as I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that an interesting aspect of the debate is the recognition of the value of commitment. Both business and home see the value of a totally committed worker -- one who cares for the issues, the product, or the child, above personal concerns. Both recognize the value of giving full attention to important matters.
Today's world certainly has many problems. Loneliness of the elderly, harsh competition in school or at work, fear in the presence of disease -- and the isolation this can cause -- these are familiar challenges in daily life. And solving them requires deep commitment to spiritual solutions.
As I was thinking about how often we could help to solve such problems by acting with more love, these perceptive words from the Bible came to mind: ``The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.''1 Christ Jesus is talking here of the hired help that runs away when a wolf attacks the flock. It can seem as if much of the affection in our lives were no deeper than that of such a mercenary!
In contrast, the mother's love for her child -- her nurturing, protecting, faithful care -- is one of the clearest examples we have in our society of true commitment. Also, parental affection is one of the clearest indications we have that God is Love. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out, ``A mother's affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal.''2
But, of course, true, constant love, which stays on after the ``hireling'' is gone, doesn't come from simply having a baby or from staying at home with the children. It is the result of spiritual understanding, and we gain it and act on it by learning more of God. God is Love, and so Love is steady, omnipotent, omnipresent, merciful. Love is, in fact, divine law, or Principle.
In understanding this law of Love, we also understand something about ourselves as God's image and likeness. As the image of Love, the image of God, we have divine support and authority for our unwavering affection and care for each other. And this authority supports us in whatever vigilant care or courage is needed. We won't, for instance, put off that visit to an elderly friend because we're ``too busy.'' Nor will ``getting ahead'' ourselves at the expense of others seem so important. We'll be learning to live our loving in practical ways that bring comfort and healing where they are most needed. This ``mothering'' is a way of living that is not limited to gender, career, children, or financial status. It expands our concept of family to include all mankind.
Jesus sometimes surprised those around him with his parables and actions. As, for instance, when he cut off his disciples' bickering over who should be greatest. In his rebuke he said, ``I am among you as he that serveth.''3 It is maybe surprising to us, too, that as we learn to follow Jesus' example more closely, we find ourselves serving more than ruling our fellowman.
Whether or not this is the most direct route to prestige and promotion as the world sees it, it is the direction of spiritual progress and healing. Regardless of our job description, expressing steadfast and wholehearted love of God and of our fellowman is the most important job we can have.
1John 10:13. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 60. 3Luke 22:27.