True brotherhood

Millions of people have become endeared to a fictional creature from outer space that stands forty inches tall and has gray-green skin. It's not so much E.T.'s appearance that warms our hearts; rather, it's his capacity to communicate, express affection, and break earthly fetters - such as gravity.

Do we earthlings cherish each other for our individual abilities, regardless of physical appearances? Not always. There are parts of the world where races and nations are bitterly divided. Though progress has been made, we have a long way to go before mankind is truly one family.

Throughout history, there was never a man more caring in word and deed than Christ Jesus. The core of his lifework was to reveal to mankind the healing, comforting, redeeming power of God, divine Love. It was his perfect understanding of his Father that enabled Jesus to be such a wonderful example for us. Christ Jesus knew God, communed with Him moment by moment, and thus could show us how to live Love.

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Think of the master Christian's compassionate dealing with the leper who came to him for healing. Here was someone who was excluded from society for his ''uncleanness.'' (It was unlawful in Biblical times to touch a leper or even come within six feet of him.) Through Christly love, Jesus not only approached the man but freed him of the dread disease. n1

n1 See Mark 1:40-42.

Do we today yearn to express something of this deep Christian love? Perhaps the key to doing so is in the opening words of the Lord's Prayer: ''Our Father.'' n2

n2 See Matthew 6:9-13.

As the Bible teaches, God, our Father, created man in His image. Therefore, everyone is truly worthy of affection. Each one, made in the likeness of Spirit, has a spiritual identity we can begin to discern and cherish. This identity is completely good, and it is man's only genuine selfhood.

We discover the Godlikeness of others not through physical appraisal but through spiritual perception. To the degree that we love God we're able to discern the blessedness of His children.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, understood the importance of knowing God as the Father of all. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: ''It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established.'' n3

n3 Science and Health, p. 462.

It was in my college years that I gained a solid awareness of the unity of all mankind under God's fatherhood.

As a sophomore, I had a roommate from the Middle East. She was as faithful a Muslim as I was a Christian. We had some interesting talks on the subject of religion and gained appreciation for each other's traditions.

It was remarkable, in fact, how our morning routines meshed. I would make room for her to unroll a prayer rug and kneel facing the East. She would respect the quiet I needed to study the Bible, together with the Christian Science textbook.

I learned the most from this friend on one of our walks across campus. This particular day we passed the college chapel and decided quite spontaneously to stop in. The building was open, but dark and unoccupied. My roommate chose to kneel by the altar, while I sat silently in one of the pews.

We didn't stay long, but as we left, a timeless truth dawned on me. I realized - joyfully and tearfully - that she and I had spoken in consciousness to the same God. Though she might call Him ''Allah'' and I might prefer ''Father-Mother,'' and though our concepts of the Supreme Being might differ, it was the same divine presence.

This poignant experience reaffirmed for me that all people, of every race and nation, are, in absolute reality, children of the one God. As offspring of the same Father, we are truly brethren. Knowing this will surely help us establish a permanent bond of brotherhood on planet Earth. DAILY BIBLE VERSE This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 John 4:21

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