Loving God in a material world
Is it possible to love God in a time when, in many Western countries, there is a growing number of both those who don’t believe in the existence of God and those who consider themselves spiritual, rather than religious? Maybe before tackling the question of how to love God in such an environment of doubt and denial, one needs to start with the basic question “Does God even exist?” It’s a question I’ve asked myself.
Although I was raised in Christian Science, after some years of wrestling to understand God and make Christian Science my own, I left churchgoing, seeing only what I felt were questionable personal interactions and a narrow denominational focus. But after time spent finishing my schooling and traveling the globe a bit, I noticed something rather basic, and quite profound to me—that everything revolves around love. Whether it was seeing the love expressed by children playing in different parts of the world, or experiencing the love of learning in college, I realized that the idea of love as a harmonizing, beautifying, and creative force was everywhere.
This struck a chord with me. I may have questioned if God exists, but I had no doubt about love’s existence. I remembered learning in Christian Science that Love is a synonym for God. I started looking at Christian Science anew, not as a cultural or denominational phenomenon as I had before, but as a Science that explains spiritual laws of being drawn from the Bible’s statement “God is love” (I John 4:8 ).
The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, says, “The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death” (p. 140 ). This can seem incomprehensible to the human mind, which is slow to discern anything that goes beyond the material sense of things. But to understand the unlimited nature of Love is to have some sense of the infinite God, or Truth, that bases reality.
And as I took up the study of Christian Science once again, I saw how freeing it was to love God—even in a world that seemed to be consumed with material things and personalities. I could become more acquainted with infinity than with limitations, and more acquainted with Love than with the fear of lacking love. I could go down deep to understand our fundamentally spiritual being and our inseparable relation to pure, spiritual, divine Love. This is brought out in “the scientific statement of being” in Science and Health, which asserts, “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation ….” The boldness of the assertion of God’s allness follows the equally bold dismissal of materiality: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” These then lead to the profound conclusion, “Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468 ).
Christian Science explains that God, Love, is the only reality, the only actual substance and cause. Divine Love operates through spiritual laws that break through material beliefs formed by fear, such as dogma, hate, divisiveness, and sickness. Love restores harmony. It grounds us on the rock of Truth, where the storms and stresses of the human experience are dispelled—not isolating us from the human experience, but deepening and enriching it. How does this work?
An analogy may help. Years ago, a friend and I took a photography class that included a section on the study of light. When I drove home that night, I started to see billboards, headlights, trees—everything—in a new way. Nothing had changed physically, but I saw how the light bathed everything, giving it texture, form, and highlights—even the darkness was defined by light. It is like that with new and clearer insights into the nature of infinite Love. When I realized that Love was the substance of all, my thought shifted, and I saw everything in my experience transformed in this new light of Love, in which Love defined everything.
And as I took up the study of Christian Science once again, I saw how freeing it was to love God—even in a world that seemed to be consumed with material things and personalities.
Loving God is knowing God as Love, and that understanding brings changes in the heart as well as healing. Prayer that affirms the infinite breadth of Love brings out that surge of possibility, that purity of desire to understand that Love is impossible to stop, avoid, or prevent. As light dissolves darkness, Love dissolves the mental darkness that makes materiality feel so real, and reveals our wholeness, resulting in healing and transformation. In proportion as I was gaining in the understanding that divine Love is omnipresent and omnipotent, materialism with all its temptations and fears lost its influence. It was in those gains that I experienced healings—some of physical ailments, some of fears and other discords. And I experienced changes in character, reversing bad habits and becoming more honest and compassionate.
This quote from the Gospel of John took on new meaning for me: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (3:16, 17 ). God, as divine Love, doesn’t lead us to perish, but to thrive. Love does not condemn, but corrects and governs. Through God’s love we are saved, and feel the power of Love to heal us and to redeem us from under a material sense of life that is full of sickness, limitation, division, and sin. Our lives flourish as we understand that materialism cannot define us or confine us and that Love is supreme.
The Bible says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 ). And in accepting this all-out, wholehearted commitment to loving God, we see the light of Love everywhere.
Kim Crooks Korinek