Volunteering at church or in a prison. Running a concert series. Organizing a community art show. Such are the unselfish activities of retirees I happen to know. It’s a promising trend. One study, highlighted in a recent Monitor editorial (see “Retirees’ secret to happiness? Giving back,” CSMonitor.com), cites a high percentage of baby boomers who rate volunteering and “helping people in need” a top priority in retirement.
But this should not be surprising. The desire to connect with others, to bless through selfless giving – at any stage of life – springs fundamentally from our eternal, spiritual relationship to God, who is the source of goodness and impels compassion. The Scriptures make plain from the outset our identity as God’s, divine Love’s, reflection or image (see Genesis 1:26, 27). God’s wholly good nature is expressed in the manifold spiritual qualities we include as His reflection. The understanding of this divine reality inspires us and impels genuine acts of unselfishness and service to others.
Inspiration, vitality, spontaneity, kindness – these and other such qualities are derived from God, and it’s natural for each of us to express them. No matter where our interests and activities take us, our true individuality and purpose is to be living witnesses to God, divine good. In the Bible, the Psalmist states, “The goodness of God endureth continually” (Psalms 52:1), and Isaiah declares, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God” (Isaiah 43:12). Scenes may shift and responsibilities change, but opportunities to manifest His goodness and love are always at hand.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines Good as “God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 587). Just as the sun is always shining, so God, good, divine Spirit, is always acting – always animating its own spiritual creation. Stagnation is unknown to Spirit. Therefore, as God’s reflection, we can no more become aimless or idle than God can. If we feel the need to find more fulfillment in later years – perhaps to forge more meaningful “connections,” or relationships, to others – knowing first our unchanging connection with God, and praying daily from this basis, can break through limitations.
Christ Jesus, the Son of God, was the supreme model of divine love in action. He daily demonstrated his oneness with the Father – and this empowered him to heal and bless others. The eternal Christ was his divine nature, and this enabled him to show us all how to prove more of our own true selfhood as God’s sons and daughters – and thus live life in the fullest sense – expressing the Life that is God, eternal good. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Our spiritual identity, made in Love’s image and likeness, can never be sidelined or unimportant. As we lift up our thought in heartfelt gratitude for God’s ever-present goodness, and prayerfully affirm our oneness with Him, God-derived love will shine through more clearly in our lives. It’s a joyful, ongoing activity! Science and Health states, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love” (p. 66). Bringing out the qualities of goodness that are unique to each of us opens doors for ongoing giving and sharing. It’s only natural.