THE Bible tells of a man, ``little of stature,'' who knew he was disliked.1 Perhaps this was so because of the questionable means by which he had become a prosperous man. Perhaps he had never felt loved, for when he heard that a man who healed and blessed others was passing that way, he ran and climbed a tree so that he could see him. The man, Christ Jesus, stopped by the tree and told him to come down, told him that he was going to stay at his house that day. Zacchaeus hurried down and received Jesus joyfully. At one point, he told Jesus that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and repay four times over anyone he might have cheated. He must have felt much love from Jesus to have changed his life so greatly. The Bible tells us that God is Love, and that He made man in His own image. If this is so -- and it is -- man's true selfhood must be precious, and Jesus knew this. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded 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 It healed Zacchaeus of his sin, for he must have caught from Jesus a glimpse of the truth that he was Godlike and lovable.
How many people have received from others as much love as they felt they needed? Certainly it's our right to have our need for human affection fulfilled -- to feel others' love for us and to express love ourselves. But at some point we also need to see that God is the source of the love we seek and that this source has no limits.
A woman who never felt fully loved had experienced lack of affection even as a young child. Her mother and sister already had a very strong bond before she arrived on the scene. Added to this was the fact that her sister had a lively,engaging nature, while she was dreamy and uncommunicative. So it sometimes seemed to her that she could not enter into quite the same warm, close relationship that existed between her mother and sister. It seemed she was held back by her own deficiencies.
She lived with the sense that she was not very lovable and not very loving. When she began to study Christian Science, the possibility of being loved by God began to dawn on her.
The Bible tells us that God loves us,every one of us. For example, in I John, third chapter, we read, ``Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.... Beloved, now are we the sons of God.''
At first it seemed as if this applied to other people or to some other time. Besides, what did it mean to be the son of God? Gradually she realized it meant that God has made us all in His likeness, each one of us -- not that fleshly mortals are God's likeness but that the true, spiritual individuality of each one of us is. Each of us, then, includes the full range of qualities emanating from the creator of all. Because God is Love, it's naturalfor us to express, and feel, tenderness, warmth, lovingkindness, lovableness. These are not qualities that belong only to some, to favored ones who were born with an ample supply of them. They are natural to us all because we are all, in truth, the children of God. In a sense, then, we can't avoid feeling God's love or embodying His qualities.
The woman saw that at the very times she had been feeling unloved, God, her Father-Mother, had been loving her totally and without limitation, expressing in her all the qualities of Love; and this was true of everyone else too. Gradually a habit of reserve and reticence gave way to friendliness, contentment, and joy that included others in its light.
Referring to divine Love, Mrs. Eddy says: ``Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, `Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.'''3 To begin to glimpse God's love for allis to feel this love ourselves and to strengthen the bonds of affection with others.
1See Luke 19:1-9. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476-477. 3Science and Health, p. 13.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3