I HAD visited the hometown of a friend of many years but hadn't called her. When notified later that she had passed away the week after my visit, I decried my selfishness. Yes, I was there on business. But I could certainly have found time to call her. In fact, I had probably spent more time considering whether or not to call than the call itself would have taken. How did I deal with the disappointment in myself? At the time I heard of my friend's passing I felt assured that God, divine Love, was ever present in her life; that her need for cherishing had been met by God in ways that undoubtedly touched her heart and buoyed her spirit. That is the nature of God's love for His children.
Yet I needed to face my own shortcoming. While I accepted the assurance that ``God is love,''1 I needed also to accept the responsibility disclosed in the verse immediately preceding that proclamation: ``Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.''
Christ Jesus provided the most outstanding example of how we are to love one another. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy2 says, referring to Jesus, ``Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love.''3 Jesus' affection was universal and constant in its recognition of the beauty and goodness of all God's offspring.
While responding to a distraught father whose daughter was at the point of death, Jesus took the time to attend to a woman whose suffering had spanned twelve years. During this time, the daughter died. Yet Jesus restored both the woman and the daughter to wholeness and health.4
Jesus' love touched the sick and sinful, including the most rejected of society, for he saw what those around him failed to see: that all in their real being are the children of God, heirs of His loveliness, integrity, and spiritual perfection. And those touched by the purity of his Christly perception and affection were healed.
A Bible commentator describes the love that is of God, the love that Jesus' healing affection defined so well: ``...it is like the sun, which does not ask on what it shall shine, or what it shall warm, but shines and warms by the very law of its own being, so that there is nothing hidden from its light and heat.''5
In sharp contrast to the love Jesus lived, my love had become selective, selfish, a matter of convenience -- more like the flicker of a candle than the brilliance of the sun. My friend's passing brought me up short, providing me an opportunity to reconsider what love is and how best to express it.
I took the opportunity! I recognized my responsibility to love, as best I could, as Jesus loved, always striving to make my best better. To do so, I had to start with the recognition that God is Love itself and that man is made after His spiritual likeness, inherently expressing His constant, impartial love. Unless I accepted how naturally man expresses divine Love, I couldn't hope to follow Jesus' example, radiating a love that warms the heart and lightens the way.
To my delight, I've discovered that loving spiritually really is natural to us. I've seen that as my love more closely approximates Jesus', it is wiser, more spontaneous, more effectively addressing the needs of those around me, less likely to miss opportunities to bless. And when we love unselfishly, we're not left out. Our needs are met as well!
It's our choice. The flicker of a candle? Or the brilliance of the sun!
1I John 4:8. 2The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health,p. 54. 4See Mark 5:22-42. 5R. C. Trench, Notes on the Parables of Our Lord (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), p. 114.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. I Peter 1:22