CHRIST Jesus taught, ``Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.''1 But what if your neighbor criticizes or threatens you? What if he or she wants you to go along with something that isn't really just? Or what if you live in a condominium and your neighbor is not just someone next door but the co-owner of the property? We are to love our neighbor in all situations. Why? Because God is Love, the very source and Principle of our being, and we exist to glorify Him by reflecting His pure nature. Our true being is His spiritual image, the expression of divine Love; therefore love is a natural and necessary part of our lives. And unselfed love, love that expresses the divine, heals.
It helps to realize that we aren't being asked to love our neighbor in some physical or personal way but to glimpse something of his real, sinless selfhood and let our actions flow from that perception. Love that is founded on this higher basis does have a healing influence and is expressed in compassion, kindness, gentleness, justice, patience, mercy.
I learned an important lesson in neighborly love not long ago. A new neighbor moved into our condominium. He had two cars in his garage. Then he brought in a third car and parked it in the guest parking area. One of the rules governing our homeowners' association stipulated that these spaces are reserved for guests and are not to be used for permanent parking. After several months the car was still there, so the matter was gently mentioned at a homeowners' meeting. The new owner exploded and stated, basically, that it was his car and his home and he could do as he wanted.
Nothing more was said or done, and people left the meeting unhappy. One person wanted to confront the owner again, but others were afraid of his temper and didn't want to anger him further. It looked like a standoff, with bad feelings all around.
I know others were trying to find a solution, and as a Christian Scientist I prayed to see and follow God's guidance. While I prayed, I realized that avoiding the problem does not bring healing. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ``Evil let alone grows more real, aggressive, and enlarges its claims; but, met with Science, it can and will be mastered by Science.''2 The Science she refers to is the Science of Christianity, the truth embodied in Jesus' teachings of God's absolute supremacy and of our relationship to Him.
It is this understanding of God's all-power as infinite Love that heals fear and anger. So I prayed that I might better trust Love's government by loving my neighbor and seeing him as God made him -- intelligent, loving, just. It then dawned on me that during the weeks after the meeting I had been closing the new owner out. I had been talking about the problem behind his back, but I had not talked with him face to face (nor had anyone else). And this was not just!
After further prayer I came up with several possible compromises, and then I invited him over to my place. I mentioned my ideas and asked what he thought. We had a nice talk. He said that he liked the homeowners' rule the way it was; he didn't want it changed. He also told me that a friend was taking the car away in a couple of weeks and there would be no further problem. And so it was.
Healing comes as we are obedient to Jesus' command. Loving our neighbor doesn't mean acquiescing to unjust actions or living in fear, but it does mean loving. And because this love is an expression of God, omnipotent Love, it brings healing.
1Matthew 22:39. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 284.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:10