‘No greater mission’ than loving God and man

When we devote ourselves to loving God and our neighbor, we’ll witness more healing, find more opportunities to help others, and express more joy.

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Love for God and man. That was the notable distinction attributed to the United States of America’s 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, at his recent memorial service in Washington, D.C. It was clear that “41,” as he is often referred to, and his family wanted his legacy to include a message to all: Everyone can and should feel joy and make a difference through honoring God and doing good.

As we strive to do that, it is helpful to consider the example of Christ Jesus, the ultimate role model for loving God supremely and blessing mankind. Jesus taught, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And there is a second like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. The whole of the Law and the Prophets depends on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40, J. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”). Above all, Jesus wanted his followers in all ages to adhere to these rules because they are paramount to us more fully expressing our true nature as God’s children – to manifesting health, harmony, and purpose.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, understood that a fruitful life, peace on earth, and the cause of Christianity itself are contingent upon following Jesus’ teachings. She included this directive as the last of six tenets of the Church of Christ, Scientist: “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 497).

I cherish this guidance. In the past several years I have been striving to do a better job of keeping that solemn promise on a daily basis, knowing that the more faithfully I reflect the Mind of Christ, the more of a healing influence I can have on the world. To me, striving each day to be more merciful, just, and pure is not just about how I treat people outwardly but also about how I think of them. If someone seems to be ill, sad, or in lack, I pray to know that divine Love would never put any of us in such a state. Should I witness dishonesty or unkindness, I mentally reach out to divine Principle to better understand that as God’s spiritual offspring we are all just and compassionate. If I detect sin I affirm the innate innocence and goodness of all of God’s, Spirit’s, creation and strive to express those qualities more myself.

The results from this sincere endeavor have been tangible: more joy, more healing, more opportunities to help others. No question, persistence is required. What I am finding, though, is the greater my commitment to doing this, the more rewarding my day.

This is a way in which any of us can make it a priority in 2019 to draw closer to God, to improve our thoughts, words, and deeds. The world could benefit from increased civility, more charitable thoughts, and kinder interactions. Our families, friends, communities, even ourselves, all need the goodness we have to share.

Our love for God is evident in our love for others. It’s what we’re here to do. In his homily, the words of the Bush family pastor, Reverend Dr. Russell Levenson Jr., say it well: “Love God, love your neighbor – there is no greater mission on planet earth.”

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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.

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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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