`A little further'

WHAT kind of friend are we? The kind who disappears when there is a problem to work out or a situation demanding a little more effort? Or are we so dedicated that we show our care in turbulent times as well as in good times? In the book of Matthew we read of a man who knew how to be a true friend, how to take the extra steps to show his love for God and man. Matthew tells us that Christ Jesus and his disciples came to a place called Gethsemane. After all the good--all the healing and teaching--that Jesus proved was possible with total faith in and understanding of God, he was to be betrayed by one he had patiently taught and loved. How many of us would stop caring and put our friendship on a shelf after just a hint of betrayal, a little discouragement, an unkind word, a flippant glance? How many of us, knowing that one whom we loved and encouraged was betraying us, would have the strength to continue? But there, in the garden of Gethsemane, we find that Jesus was loving as no friend had ever loved. He was giving as no man had ever given. The Bible tells us, ``He went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.'' 1 The account states that Jesus went ``a little further.'' Although in this context these words refer to literal distance, we might all benefit by thinking of that phrase in another way. For actually Jesus did more than take a few more physical steps. He put down self-will and yielded to God's will. He expressed the boundlessness of divine Love. Where can we start in learning to love more in the face of hostility or indifference? There is a solid foundation from which to start, a foundation that recognizes everyone's true nature, including our own, to be the very expression of God, divine Love. From the Bible we can also learn that God is Spirit, and man His spiritual image and likeness. So our actual selfhood is infinitely better than the mortal we seem to be. And when we become more conscious of our spiritual identity through prayer, conscious of the good inheritance that comes from God, we have an understanding that flows with goodness, love, honesty, joy. And with this overflowing, we put away, with confidence, mere self-interest for what blesses all. This spiritually based understanding and unselfed love uplift. They help dissolve the false concept of man as a selfish, frustrated mortal, subject to laws that God never made. Christian Science teaches us how to put off the limits of mortality and demonstrate that man's true nature is spiritual, immortal. The perception of this reality brings healing, the Christly touch, to humanity. The bettering of human conditions through healing indicates that the real likeness of God is being revealed while misconceptions about man fall away. With a correct starting point, we show a little more care to all we meet, express a little more joy in our tone of voice, and a little more encouragement for those who are ``down'' for the moment. We find the time and the energy to love as Jesus loved. We watch, then go a little further and do our Father's will. For whatever our divine Parent's will is for us, He supplies the wisdom and the way. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes of Jesus: ``His earthly cup of bitterness was drained to the dregs. There adhered to him only a few unpretentious friends, whose religion was something more than a name.'' 2 Christianity is more than a name for those going yet a little further. It is the very fabric of being. As Jesus' life proved, every kind and tender word or act is like a pebble dropped into the water. It causes a ripple that goes far beyond the initial impact. And we have many opportunities each day for expressing such love. To some degree, we can all prove with unselfed friendships that Christ is the way, the way of love. For every time we take an extra step, God carries us a lot further. 1 Matthew 26:39. 2 Science and Health, p. 54.

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