Loving Those Who Are Different

Taking a spiritual look at events and issues of special interest to young people.

DID you ever notice that in some of the most popular science fiction movies like Star Wars and Star Trek people meet the strangest beings and somehow get along with them? I always wonder a bit about that because we seem to have so much trouble getting along with each other. I mean, when you think about it--people here might have a different skin color or language or religion, but basically we're pretty much the same. So how come we can't get along?

Sometimes it is fear or uncertainty about what the other person might do to us. Sometimes it is ignorance. Maybe we've never had to deal with someone like that before, and we're not sure what to do. In other cases, maybe we've heard that all people of a certain race or nationality are cruel or selfish or stupid, and we believe that lie about them. This would keep us from seeing the good that everyone can express.

Christ Jesus is the best example of how to overcome all the things that would keep us from loving one another. He met all kinds of people during his life. Many of them were sick, mentally and physically. Others came from other countries or were of different religions. But Jesus wasn't afraid, because he knew that all of them were the sons and daughters of God.

This means that he knew they were spiritual--that it was natural for them to express goodness, intelligence, peace, and love, rather than evil, stupidity, anger, and hate. They could do this because God made them that way. And God made us that way too. So it's actually normal for us to be loving and kind, and it's abnormal for us to be crabby and mean--even toward people who are different from us.

All of us--you, me, our friends, and even people we think of as enemies--are united as members of God's family. Because we belong to the family of divine Love, we have no need to compete with each other. We don't have to be jealous of other races or to hate another culture. As the ideas of Mind, of Love, we get our intelligence and all other good from God, who created us. No one can take away from us the good He gives us, because it is spiritual, not material. So we don't need to be afraid to love

others. We can't take away the good God is giving anyone else, either. But we can trust God to care for all of us through His unlimited love.

Our trust in God can be a type of prayer--a turning to divine Love so we can learn better how to love one another. In a little book called No and Yes, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes about how to pray and how this will help us and the world. She says, ''True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection'' (p. 39).

Jesus loved in this way. And his love for people never ran out, because he knew that all love has its source in God. He told his disciples, ''As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love'' (John 15:9). You might say that divine Love is like a great river that refreshes everyone, but no human person is its source. It just pours out from God. So the love we reflect from God isn't a human emotion but is a way of living in harmony with God.

Loving this way is really seeing our fellow beings from the standpoint of God's love--seeing them as they really are, spiritual, good, and valuable. It may involve helping someone who is wrongly accused or comforting someone who is having some kind of trouble.

When we get in the habit of looking for good in others, it becomes a lot easier to see why God loves them. And if He loves them, as members of His family, we can love them too. Such love breaks down the barriers that would separate us--whether they are unusual clothes, a strange accent, or a different-colored skin. None of these human details can actually hide from us a joyful heart or one that wishes to be close to God. And as we see this--and express such love and joy ourselves--we will gain much happiness from including ''all mankind in one affection''!

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