THERE I was, suffering bitterly from another's slander and abuse, and that's all my mother could tell me. It didn't give me much comfort. But when I learned what she really meant, the longstanding animosity on both sides was healed. She wasn't telling me to love this individual's obnoxious behavior, but to see through that to his real identity as the son of God.
Perhaps one of the hardest of the Christian disciplines for most of us is to love our enemies.1 Yet this precept enabled Christ Jesus to complete his mission successfully. He loved when others hated, healed and saved when others scoffed. He reformed sinners and purified lives even while his detractors employed every evil means to undermine his good works.
We can follow Jesus' example now. The key lies in a deeper comprehension of man's real spiritual identity-- and in a rejection of the counterfeit of identity presented by the material senses. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.'' 2
In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus showed us how to identify ourselves and others correctly in these two words: ``Our Father.'' 3 This shared heritage makes it possible to overcome chronic or acute conflict. My own experience proved this. I had to look long and hard to discern the offspring of God behind the faade of a vicious, un just mortal. It took some serious pride-swallowing on my part to realize that neither he nor I was in charge, but that our Father, divine Love, was fully capable of revealing justice and mercy to both of us.
``God is love,'' 4 the Bible tells us. I reasoned that if our Father is Love, all His children must actually be loving. The first step was to keep my thinking in line with this spiritual fact whenever I was confronted with this individual in thought or in person. Easy? No! But the example was there in the life of our Master.
About this time I found an article by Mrs. Eddy titled ``Love Your Enemies.'' Here she writes: ``Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception? What is it that harms you? Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good,--that blesses infinitely one and all?
``Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect.'' 5
It was wonderful to see the change in our relationship. Mutual respect replaced ugly enmity. I was awed by the melting of this apparently insoluble problem.
I can't honestly say I've never again been tempted to hate another. But it's clearer to me all the time that I have the option to refuse to react with anger and self-justification to the taunts of evil. The facts are established! Man is the image of Love. And to the degree that we are willing to hold to this fact, we will stop hatred in its tracks. What an impact for good we can have on the course of events. You can start where you are!
1 See Matthew 5:44. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 476-477. 3 See Matthew 6:9. 4 I John 4:16. 5 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8