Christ Jesus taught his followers to serve God with the whole heart and to love one another (see Matthew 22:37-39). He asked us to change our motives from personal comfort and ease to serve God and man: “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (see John 12:26).
The teachings of Christian Science make it abundantly clear that a right motive can make all the difference when it comes to the opportunities facing us, both in our personal and professional lives. When we are consumed with our own comfort, then we often find that we are easy to provoke, disturb, and discourage. But loving God and man brings strength, freedom, and innumerable benefits.
Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p.454).
To love man is to give unselfishly and to recognize everyone’s true being as a child of God, the expression of God’s being. Loving man is also demonstrating the reality of our own being as the image of divine Love, God. In doing this we discover the support, joy, freedom, and fulfillment that God bestows on each of us as His expression, manifesting all the harmonious qualities and freedom of God Himself.
When it was time for my basic training in the Army, I was sent to a post in the southern United States. It was hot, humid, and rampant with bugs, snakes, and invasive plants. When that training period was over, I said to myself, “This is one place in the world I am never coming back to.” What I learned during that training period was very instructive and, of course, essential to my next few years in the military. But I could not fathom living in such a harsh environment again.
Years later, after my wife and I got married, I offered my services to our church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass. I was willing to be a Christian Science Minister for the Armed Services. This is a civilian position, not a commissioned officer as a military chaplain. The head of the department that I talked to said they had three military posts where there was an immediate need. The greatest need was at the very post where I had basic training and had said I would never go back to.
But because my motives were to do good – to do what I felt was God’s work – by loving our fellow neighbors and helping our men and women in uniform, I unhesitatingly agreed to be stationed at that post and began to see the blessings unfold.
My aversion to the location completely melted as my wife and I served there. There were many opportunities to visit the men and women who wanted support in Christian Science, and we were able to hold Sunday services and weekday testimony meetings for them. During these exchanges, we saw wonderful healings come out of our prayerful support.
The lesson I learned from that experience was that when one has a higher motive than his or her own comfort and safety – a motive to serve, to love, to help one’s fellowman – then we begin to discover our real, selfless, God-given selfhood. Prejudices against certain locations, climates, or politics can be totally subordinated, and the joy of serving fills our lives. The time my wife and I spent at that military post was 10 times as long as my time in basic training. And yet the blessings and benefits were incalculable because of the blessings we saw Christian Science bring to those military people, whether in training or coming from and going to active duty. When we hear from some of the soldiers that we knew, there is always a sense of rich appreciation for the work we did together – God’s work, to demonstrate healing.
The time that my wife and I spent serving those military men and women, and their families, was totally rewarding. Even now, years later, our memories of the benefits gained for all concerned enlarge our sense of gratitude for the blessings that come when we have a higher motive. As the writer of Proverbs says, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).