WE sat on the porch together on a warm spring evening and talked about school. ``I just can't like him, Dad,'' my son said. ``He punches, he kicks, he's always banging into my desk.''
I must admit, the picture reminded me of a hundred kids I had known as a boy. I knew, though, that something positive and redeemable about this boy awaited discovery. Yet I hesitated to urge my son to ``like'' someone just because it was something he ``ought'' to do. Then I thought of something that seemed to get at the heart of the matter. ``You can love who God loves,'' I said after a brief silence. ``God loves him, and you can understand why it is that God loves him.''
At other times my son might have argued a bit. But this time he didn't. ``Yes,'' he repeated quietly, ``God loves him, and I can love who God loves.''
I don't know all the details of exactly how my son worked things out with this boy, but I do know that there were no more fights the rest of the school year.
There are times when it's easy to think ``no one could possibly love him!'' But God doesn't judge by what the world sees. God loves each one in His spiritual creation, fully and without reservation. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes about the nature of God as divine Love. She 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.'''1
Of course, the man that God creates and loves is not the mortal counterfeit of man that does at times indeed play the stinker! The man of God's creating is spiritual, and this is the only man there truly is. The Bible assures us, ``God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.''2
But what about individuals whose behavior tries to persuade us that some people can think and act just the opposite of the way God has created His children? Do we have to force ourselves into close friendships with them? No, of course not. And it may be wiser not to, in some cases. Behavior that is absorbed in selfish concerns can have a difficult time benefiting from the light of God's love, and it isn't our job to change someone else. Yet we can always know that God loves His creation and understand why.
It might be tempting to think of such love as an abstraction. But it's not. Spiritual love can change things right here and now. I remember vividly how that was proved in my own experience.
During my time as a teacher I had a young man join my class who at first let unruly behavior govern him so much of the time that it seemed impossible for me to love him.
But then I noticed a strength there that was battling against the limitations others felt he had. This glimpse of goodness was enough to turn me to what God knew of him -- only love and untouchable preservation of his spiritual individuality. Soon his behavior in my class changed dramatically. Although he never excelled as a student, he was cooperative and helpful.
Doesn't this point to something important about loving, being loved, and even being lovable? God's love knows nothing of the limitations that we would put on love. His love embraces all. Love flows from God and blesses all.
When we endeavor to discover an individual's spiritual identity, we'll find that we can love what we find. And whether or not we have a close relationship, we'll never think of him or her as unlovable.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13. 2I John 4:16.