I GREW up believing that God is Love, as the Bible teaches, but it was some time before I gave serious thought to what that meant. God's love is simply a given. I'd experienced the healing power of God's love. At such times, His love seemed so strong and powerful to me that it simply overwhelmed every sense of discomfort and left me feeling profoundly loved, and at the same time totally well. But I never stopped to think about God's love and me, and how we connected.
Then one day I was reading Jeremiah's statement of God's enduring love for His people. ``The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee'' (31:3). This time the verse raised an unexpected question. Who actually is it that God loves? Does He love the ``me'' that is the way I am right now--flaws and all? The Bible teaches that God is all-knowing. If that is the case, how can He love me? There were, and remain, some characteristics that I couldn't believe would call forth God's love.
I grew up in a strong family. Whatever challenges I presented to my parents, their love was unfailing. I made life quite difficult for them at times, but I never forfeited their love. But God's love had to be different. It wasn't that God couldn't love me with all my faults. It was that if He allowed those faults, it would be intolerable. If God even knew my shortcomings, my failures and flaws, and loved me with them, there wouldn't be any hope. I couldn't expect to change, to be better. The Bible is blunt: God is incapable of loving or accepting anything imperfect, anything evil. And that is when it hit me. The ``me'' that I thought I was, and the ``me'' that God knows me to be, are not the same.
It was then that I felt the great spiritual desire to know the ``me'' that God knows and loves ``with an everlasting love.'' Christ Jesus spoke about being born again; Paul wrote about putting off the old man and putting on the new. At this time in my life, I started in many ways to be born anew. It isn't always easy to put off what is ungodlike, but the results are well worth the effort.
The eternal Christ, which Jesus' life illustrated, was making clear to me that God knows man--knows me--as His spiritual and perfect image. There is nothing hidden from Him. Everything there is to be truly known about you or me is known to God. And everything He knows calls forth yet more love. This is the ``me,'' the man of God's creating, that I've been striving to know ever since that day. Obviously, as one discovers one's own spiritual identity in this way, one can better see the spiritual identity of everyone.
In her Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains the spiritual basis of man's perfection and goodness, which represent God and call forth His love. She writes: ``We learn in the Scriptures, as in divine Science, that God made all; that He is the universal Father and Mother of man; that God is divine Love: therefore divine Love is the divine Principle of the divine idea named man; in other words, the spiritual Principle of spiritual man. Now let us not lose this Science of man, but gain it clearly; then we shall see that man cannot be separated from his perfect Principle, God, inasmuch as an idea cannot be torn apart from its fundamental basis'' (p. 186). The love of God reveals that we are not flawed. Man is good, deserving God's love. It's wonderful to discover the ``me'' that God knows. It enables us to purge away from our lives and actions anything that isn't part of this spiritual reality.