United in God’s love

Today’s column explores the idea that through the understanding of the infinite Love that is God, divisions can be rectified and peace established.

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Right now we seem to be confronted with a grim picture of divisiveness in domestic politics and international affairs. Do we have to accept that this sense of divisiveness is permanent or hopeless, or that solutions are out of reach?

In modern times, we have often seen the power of good overcoming evil, unifying men, women, and nations, in many large and small ways, proving that humanity can overcome division.

As I have observed such signs of progress, I have grown increasingly convinced that such efforts are aided by an understanding of the ever-present power of God. The Bible teaches that God is Love, and that we are all His loving and beloved children (see I John 4:16). This Love transcends history, war, race, hatred, socioeconomics, envy, and misunderstanding, because it is wholly spiritual, rather than based in a limited, fickle, conditional, and material perspective of the world. Divine Love lifts us to understand the spiritual reality of God’s creation, where man – each of us, as the sons and daughters of God – is made in the spiritual image and likeness of God. In understanding God’s love for us, and this identity of ours as His loving and loved children, we see that we are truly united to one another within this spiritual reality.

This understanding of the loving nature of God and His creation was taught and evidenced by Christ Jesus, who helped humanity learn of this true unity that binds us all in oneness with God and with one another. And he urged us to make that spiritual love practical in our interactions with each other.

In his Sermon on the Mount, he says: “There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too” (Matthew 5:43-45, The Living Bible). Both sun and rain were needed for a good crop, so Jesus is saying that God loves all with an impartial love, which we each reflect.

As a devoted follower of Christ Jesus, Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy shares in her key text, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” what she learned about divine Love. She spoke of her experience of having proved in her own life that the law of Love restores wholeness and harmony when applied to division or inharmony, including physical illness, relationship problems, financial crises, or expressions of hatred. On the basis of such proofs of Love’s healing power, “Science and Health” says: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ ...” (p. 340).

I felt a moving sense of this unifying power of divine Love when my husband and I attended a church service in Tokyo a year and a half ago. Following the service, a local church member invited a German couple and us to be her guests for lunch at the International House of Japan, an institution established after World War II to promote greater understanding and peace between Japan and Western nations.

During the meal, we discussed how we’d each been thinking and praying about various world events, from the global economy, to upcoming elections, to the refugee crisis in Syria, and much more. What touched me deeply over the course of the meal was that here we were, a Japanese woman, two Germans, and two Americans, sitting together expressing love for God and our fellow man, and talking about spiritual and practical solutions to global challenges – where just 75 years before, our countries had been at war with each other. It reminded me of this verse from a hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal”:

Let all that now divides us
Remove and pass away,
Like shadows of the morning
Before the blaze of day.
Let all that now unites us
More sweet and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
(Jane Borthwick, No. 196)

Perhaps these words are a prayer we can cherish for today’s world, understanding that this “blest land of love” is the reality of humanity's true existence as children of divine Love, by which we are all forever united.

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“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.

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