Going the extra
A recent magazine article about a hydroelectric power project in one of the world's beauty spots spoke of the builders ''going the extra.'' They had built the powerhouse and main works underground, but they had also gone out of their way to preserve the natural beauty of the location in many other ways. They had done more than was actually demanded of them.
''Going the extra'' stems from Christ Jesus' well-known Sermon on the Mount. ''Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain,'' n1 he told his listeners. According to one Bible commentary the Master was probably referring to the requirement that the inhabitants of a district carry the baggage of Roman troops passing through - a form of taxation. Jesus' words were clearly designed to encourage people to do something more than simply comply with the bare necessities. He was asking for something extra.
n1 Matthew 5:41.
Can't we say that, in the deepest sense, the extra he was asking for is spirituality? The Saviour's mission was to lift people from the contemplation of life in matter to a higher view of life in Spirit. His healing works were spiritually uplifting. Wasn't he, throughout his mission, asking people to think and act in the spirit of God?
But what aspect of spirituality could be brought to the task of bearing an oppressor's burdens?
The answer, as Jesus demonstrated, is love - love that springs from God, divine Love itself. When a task is done with love, there is no burdened sense. Love, Christianity reveals, is the element that lightens every load. It beautifies life and unites mankind. Referring to God, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ''Love is the liberator.'' n2 And Paul the Apostle tells us, ''Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.'' n3
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 225.
n3 II Corinthians 3:17.
There is one God, one divine Father-Mother, Love, and we are all, in truth, the spiritual image and likeness of the one divine creator. Because God is Love, it is normal for us to live and act in the spirit of Love.
To a man learned in the letter of religious law, who inquired about its implications, Jesus told a parable. It was the story of the good Samaritan. n4
n4 See Luke 10:25-37.
The parable tells of a traveler from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked by thieves, and was left severely wounded by the roadside. A priest and a Levite who saw the man and his need passed by on the other side. They neglected to help. Then a Samaritan - a stranger - came along, assessed the situation, and had compassion on the man. Not only did he bind up the man's wounds, he put him on his own beast and took him to an inn and cared for him. Additionally, the following day when he was departing, he paid the host, gave instructions for the man's further care, and made the promise of other payment if it was required. In every way the stranger put into practice the basic teaching of loving God and one's neighbor. By going the extra, the good Samaritan brought God's healing love to a troubled situation, and left it in a state of harmony.
We are all faced daily with tasks to be done and needs to be met. There are challenging situations by every roadside. What should be our attitude?
A mortal, limited sense of life would tell us to do grudgingly only what is necessary, and nothing more - to ignore our neighbor's needs and pay no heed to the damage our selfish attitudes invoke. On the other hand, the Christly view lifts us to a higher, spiritual attitude of compassion and brotherly love. This immortal, unlimited sense of life, which Jesus demonstrated, preserves and restores a normal consciousness of good - normal because God is good, and made everything good, as the Bible tells us. By responding to the Christly sense of divine good, we imbue our daily tasks with a healing spirit.
This is ''going the extra,'' letting the spirit of Love govern our lives. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? I John 3:17