Budapest, Hungary. Munich, Germany. Bodrum, Turkey. Such beautiful, historic places as these have become symbols of unanswered global questions about our moral obligations to mankind, as countless individuals arrive there seeking refuge from war-torn nations.
Reports a couple of months ago of masses of refugees fending for themselves at Keleti railway station in Hungary, having just escaped the chaos of warfare, prompted me to give serious thought and prayer to this issue.
“There, but for the grace of God, go I” could be one response. But what is the grace of God? Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve come to understand it to be the inspired effect on human behavior of understanding God’s universal love for man. Such boundless grace must hold answers for each individual, oppressed or free, in conflict or at peace, in Syria or Arizona.
We could, of course, simply view these challenges as someone else’s problem. But we can do better than that.
In the 1970s, an influx of Vietnamese families, torn by conflict, was met with magnanimity by many in my community; they opened their hearts and doors to those in need. And more than just being a morally sure-footed thing to do, it was a mutual blessing. For instance, our family benefited from knowing the Pham family. Their daughters proved to be terrific babysitters for our children. In turn, we found a home for our well-seasoned Volvo wagon that helped them move their wonderful, talented family about.
As I learned in that experience, the love each of us has to give and receive comes from a deeper source than ourselves. “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals,” wrote the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 13). She was referring to divine Love, God – which we all reflect, since we are made in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). So it’s natural for each of us to feel the infinite love God has for each of His spiritual children, and to express this God-given, universal love – for example, to live the golden rule Christ Jesus gave us by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Does giving of God-derived love deplete us? No. On the contrary, there’s a wonderful statement from the Bible: “Now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (II Corinthians 8:14).
How can this be? It is because our Maker, God, is infinite good. As we open our own thought, on behalf of others, to the fact of the inexhaustibility of the divine source of grace, we get a better grasp on God’s endless grace for all. This helps mitigate, at its root, the belief that we need to compete for good, that its source is limited.
A spirit of generosity and love inevitably results from understanding more and more God’s infinite, spiritual nature. As we recognize God’s abundant, impartial grace for all, we naturally find ourselves ready to give of that God-derived love to those in need. And we can each pray to know how best to express this love toward others, wherever the need may be.
Adapted from the author’s blog.