A Christian Science perspective: In the spirit of unselfish charity, acts of love speak volumes of our true worth.

Have you ever been touched by some act of lovingkindness so pure and genuine, so heartfelt and unselfish, that no words could describe its effect on you? I have. Millions of such acts go on each day, hidden from the world, done quietly, persistently, and sometimes at great personal cost or risk to those doing them.

Such acts are rooted in the understanding, even in a small degree, that pure love underlies our very reason for existing. To love is to live, in a sense. Our lives are measured more by what we do than by what we say, and rise in the degree that we subordinate self-interest to the interests of others. Such love is spiritual, the reflection of divine Love. Christian Science brings out that divine Love is our Father-Mother God, who has created us in His image, to express Love’s eternal goodness (see Genesis 1:26, 27, 31). Wherever hatred, callousness, or indifference arises, whether in speech or deed, it’s clear that a kind of blindness to the nature of God as Love has imposed itself on someone’s thinking. But the light of the true idea of God, the Christ, can dispel that blindness through spiritual understanding and spiritual love, which find expression in healing and tangible deeds of compassion.

One of the most profound and inspiring statements on the need for love to be expressed in heartfelt deeds was made by a man who had previously indulged in hatred and violence against a new religious sect springing up in ancient Israel. He was Saul of Tarsus – a brilliant Jewish scholar and lawyer who participated in ruthless assaults against the followers of Christ Jesus, after he had been crucified. And yet, one day, quite suddenly, Saul experienced a dramatic conversion. Temporarily blinded, he found shelter and eventual healing of his blindness from the very people he had been trying to destroy. Remarkably, he went on to become a great healer and Christian leader.

In his brief essay on the subject of “charity,” or spiritual love toward mankind, which has touched millions through the centuries, Saul, whose spiritual transformation earned him the new name Paul, establishes the ascendancy of genuine love over mere words or showy displays:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.... And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth ... (I Corinthians 13:1, 3-8)

To express even a few of these characteristics of love toward others may seem like a tall order. But I find it encouraging to remember that deeds of compassion and kindness in the lives of many noble individuals have sprung up, phoenixlike, from the ashes of falsehood and ignorance. And in moments of prayer, when I’ve been especially clear that the love I express originates not in me, but in divine Love, my true spiritual source, it’s as though a veil is lifted from my eyes, so to speak, and I glimpse something of divine Love motivating me and working through my actions. I’ve seen the love that “never faileth” heal what appeared to be a crushing sense of grief or loss – and I’ve also seen it evaporate hatred and ill health. Hatred and discord simply can’t abide within the atmosphere of infinite Love, the all-present and all-powerful divine Spirit, or God. The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote: “Heaven’s signet is Love. We need it to stamp our religions and to spiritualize thought, motive, and endeavor” (“Christian Healing,” p. 19).

Like Paul, we can yield to Christ, the true idea of Love, and awaken to a greater clarity of purpose and a desire to love more unselfishly. And we’ll feel pushed by Christ to go beyond words – to better deeds of love. That’s genuine living.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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