DOESN'T the bulk of popular literature and entertainment suggest that the main story of life is about sex and personal relationships? Human companionship is undeniably an important part of life, but is it the main story? The Bible teaches that there is an even more primary relationship that gives meaning to life: the bond between God and man. This bond is compared in the Bible to that of shepherd and sheep, father and son, mother and child, even husband and wife. The developing understanding of man's rel ationship to God is traced through the lives of such Biblical characters as Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and David. While all these people had close ties with family and friends, it was their relationship to God that gave their lives enduring meaning.
This story of the love between God and man culminates in the life of Christ Jesus, who from his youth knew God as his Father. Although Jesus' life was rich in human relationships--coming from a large family, being close to his mother, having the companionship of disciples and friends--his sonship with God was always his primary commitment. We read in the Gospel of Luke that even as a child he asked his mother and Joseph, ``Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" The main story in Jesus' l ife was his mission of teaching us about a greater love than human affection--and about an eternal union of God and His spiritual offspring, man. Jesus' understanding of man's spiritual unity with God not only gave him victory over death but brought the hope of salvation to all mankind.
While personal attachments are subject to fluctuation and separation, God's love for His idea, man, remains constant and eternal. No ethnic strife, famine, disease, divorce, or so-called natural disaster can separate anyone from God, who is our one true Life. This fact of God's ever-present love becomes a staff to lean on when someone we depended on for happiness is no longer present, or when personal relationships disappoint us. Instead of grieving as though the best part of our life had ended, we can t urn away from a material, personal sense of man and existence to seek a new beginning in the recognition and demonstration of universal, everlasting Love.
Having found from painful experience how temporary even the best of human relationships can be, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, learned to lean on God as her primary companion. Her concept of love was so independent of personal attachment that when a worker in her household once asked, ``Do you love me?" she replied, ``I just love. As the sun just shines, I just love" (see Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy by Irving C. Tomlinson). And knowing well the need to turn from f ailed personal hopes to a higher affection, she wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``My angels are exalted thoughts, appearing at the door of some sepulchre, in which human belief has buried its fondest earthly hopes. With white fingers they point upward to a new and glorified trust, to higher ideals of life and its joys."
As we respond to God's love, it inevitably forces us out of self-centered, limited thinking--and as a result blesses all those around us and brings new purpose, joy, and fullness to life. When we realize that our primary relationship--the one through which we find security, completeness, and enduring affection--is not human but divine, the story of the Bible becomes the story of our own life. People may come and go, but the divine adventure of spiritual existence continues forever. And because God is inf inite and man eternal, our part in the unfolding story of this ongoing companionship never ends.