Listening to the news of “wars and rumours of wars” (Matthew 24:6), hearing about neighborhood and community challenges, and grappling with important national and international questions – it all often causes me to think, “What could I possibly do to help?”
Usually no grand answer occurs to me. No legislative remedy seems possible. And sometimes my own wisdom seems inadequate even for my own problems, let alone those of a family or community or world.
But I am sure there is something special and effective that I can offer, based on my love for my family, my neighbors, my country, and humanity.
I know that a simple, unbiased love, full of humility and sincerity, can mark out a path to follow in any situation. This love is born totally of God; though we express it, we are not its generator or originator.
The Bible tells us as much. It says in simple words which carry so much meaning, “We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). In other words, we have the ability to love because God is Love, and we express Him. We might compare this spiritual fact to sunlight passing through a window. The glass itself could never generate the sunlight, but, in proportion to the freedom the glass has from impurities or additives, light passes through untouched.
The Bible is full of examples of the way in which God’s love, reflected, can open the door to great things. The story of Ruth immediately comes to thought. Ruth, her sister-in-law, Orpah, and her mother-in-law, Naomi, were each widowed within a short period of time. They needed to do something to support themselves. Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families, and while Orpah chose to do so, Ruth stayed with Naomi as she journeyed to Bethlehem.
There, Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi’s husband, invited Ruth to glean from his field. He treated her kindly, for he knew what had happened and that she had stayed at Naomi’s side. Soon, Ruth and Boaz married. Their child, Obed, grew up to be grandfather to King David. You might say that Ruth’s love for Naomi – her reflection of God as divine Love – started a chain of great events in which God worked out good for all.
No wonder then, that Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science and of The Christian Science Monitor, says of love: “What a word! I am in awe before it. Over what worlds on worlds it hath range and is sovereign!” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 249). Further in the same passage, she depicts love in small yet powerful terms: “the tender, unselfish deed done in secret ... the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; ...”
As we ground ourselves on the love of God, we find our starting point – no matter what challenges we face. What’s before us may seem like a maze of interrelated physical, financial, and personal problems. But when we begin with love, a quality of God, we see that all of His abundance is available to us. In a way, starting with love is like hiring a contractor to build our home: he himself doesn’t know every skill needed, but in each case, at every turn, someone working for him does know. This is like the infinite toolbox of God’s being. And love is what unlocks that toolbox.
Whether the questions before us – a loved one, a community, or a world – seem simple or complex, a loving, humble attitude is a wonderful place to start. As individuals, we do not know the whole solution. But we can be sure that God does know and has the right answer for each of His children.