“A culture buffeted by conflict, controversy, and coarseness can be improved with one simple ingredient,” declares a recent Monitor column (“The quiet quality that uplifts,” CSMonitor.com). “The substance,” it turns out, “is ‘philia,’ which goes by its generic name ‘brotherly love.’ ”
I have to admit, it seemed so obvious that at first I felt a little underwhelmed. Of course behaving kindly to one another makes the world a better place, right? But as I continued reading, I realized there's much more to it than that.
Brotherly love in its deepest, truest sense is imbued with a power that goes far beyond simply human acts of kindness, to the very essence of what it truly means to love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God,” we read in the Bible (I John 4:7). The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, puts it simply: “God is Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 2).
This is huge! Divine Love, a synonym for God, is so supreme, so infinite, that it heals and transforms. Nobody proved this more fully than Christ Jesus, whose expression of God’s love for man was so pure that he was able to meet in just the right way the needs of the men, women, and children he encountered. His understanding of God as Love was so complete that healing and regeneration were the natural result.
Every one of us is capable of the love and compassion that are impelled by divine Love. The very first chapter of the Bible assures us that we are created in God’s image and likeness. Which means that our real, spiritual nature is the reflection of unlimited and unconditional Love. Opening our heart to the Christ, the Truth that reveals our true identity as Love’s reflection, moves us to see others in this spiritual light and inspires compassion and kindness.
I experienced this in a modest way a few years ago when I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. The man in front of me was coming up short in paying what he owed for his vegetables. As he emptied his pockets looking for more cash – refusing to step aside while he did so, despite the long line behind him – I felt myself getting annoyed. I had him pegged as a forgetful, inconsiderate human being.
Amid my mental grumblings, though, came the simple idea, “God is Love.” Quickly I saw that my assessment of this person as a thoughtless, uncaring mortal was far from the spiritual reality of man made in God’s likeness, the real identity of all of us. With this realization, instead of continuing to judge this man and letting impatience win the day, I prayerfully turned my thought toward divine Love.
As I did, my irritation vanished, and I suddenly felt impelled to quietly step forward and pay for the man’s groceries. In this case, it simply seemed like the right thing to do. The man’s grateful, gracious response touched me and all of those in line behind him, and there was a noticeable shift from annoyed mutterings about wasted time to cheerful chatter. It wasn’t something I had personally orchestrated; it was God’s limitless love being manifested.
Each of us can strive to recognize God, Love, as the only true power and to let Love guide our thoughts and actions as we interact with those around us. It takes a humble willingness to have our thought redirected by God as we interact with the world day by day, but it’s the way of divine healing. Brotherly love derived from infinite Love is a powerful force for good in the world. And there’s certainly nothing underwhelming about it!