A Christian Science perspective: On loving God and man.
—There’s a running thread throughout the Bible about how to achieve true happiness. It is to love God supremely and to love another as oneself.
Christ Jesus deemed these two actions to be imperative. When asked what he saw as the No. 1 law, he responded: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
Jesus tells us that these two precepts are actually interwoven. Starting with loving God above all else lays a solid foundation for feeling and engaging in the highest love of all. It honors the fact that God, divine Love, is the only source of good, and recognizes God as the basis for the love we see expressed.
To regard God, Love itself, in the way the Bible instructs is to consider divine Love to be our caring Father-Mother, tenderly providing us with assurance, peace, and harmony; it is to trust divine Love to guide, protect, and nurture us; and to listen for and follow Love’s leading. As we do this to the best of our ability each day, even in difficult times, we will be keeping that first great commandment, and we’ll feel a confidence and even a joy that naturally follows.
That joy impels us to fulfill the second great commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself. We can start by understanding that we are all worthy of love. Loving others is enriched by an understanding that even those who we may find difficult to love are truly God’s children. As creations of God, we each innately reflect the spiritual qualities that come from God, Spirit. For example, we radiate beauty because we express God, also known as Soul. Identifying each other along these spiritual lines is key to genuine solace. It also opens us up to loving our neighbor.
As we nurture our love for God, we are naturally impelled to care, to help, to forgive. Our love for God and man becomes simultaneous. As the Bible points out, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.... [F]or he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also (I John 4:16, 20, 21).
Beginning with God brings to light the truest sense of Love – illuminating genuine satisfaction and even healing. As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: “The human affections need to be changed from self to benevolence and love for God and man; changed to having but one God and loving Him supremely, and helping our brother man. This change of heart is essential to Christianity, and will have its effect physically as well as spiritually...” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 50-51).