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.”