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‘What if … love?’

From the August 8, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

If you’ve spent any serious amount of time just hanging out with friends, you’ve probably found yourself playing some version of the “what if” game. One of the “what if” questions that invariably gets asked is: “What if you had only one more day left on earth? How would you spend it?” Answers can sometimes be things like, “Go skydiving” or “Buy a ridiculously expensive car.” 

But when people really get serious about that question, it is amazing how consistently the response has to do with finding some way to express love in an intense way. People want those they care about to know how much they love them. Interestingly, the answer tends to come out the same if you flip the question on its head: “If you knew you were going to live forever and you had to do one thing forever, what would it be?” The answer is love. Everything else would just get boring after a while. 

The bottom line is, love is what matters. And here’s the thing: Love doesn’t just matter when you’re sitting around idly pondering things or when things are going well. Love is what matters when life gets really, really hard. Or scary. Or painful. Or confusing. Or depressing. Or … whatever. 

I saw how true this is when 9/11 happened—when people turned passenger planes into weapons and crashed them into buildings. As I walked the streets of my hometown of Boston, you could sense great sadness and shock. But mostly what you felt was everyone wanting to find some way to be kind, to love one another. It was as if complete strangers were yearning to hug each other but weren’t sure how to go about it. But everyone seemed to know and feel that love was what mattered most. 

Each of us has to try to make sense of the world we live in, and it can sometimes feel that most news we get from around the world is bad. Each of us also has to figure out our own career and purpose, and how we can make a difference for good in our world. We have to wrestle with how to be healthy and how to value who we are. And then too often, separated in their own little corner, are feelings about love. But that’s completely upside down. 

In fact, shouldn’t the purpose of life be to rebel against that tendency, and instead to make everything about love? Isn’t that what Christ Jesus did? The unbounded Christly love that animated Jesus enabled him to rise above even the intensely focused hate of the cross. Christian Science shows us that our own yearning to love even in the midst of difficulties is the same Christ, the true idea of Love, speaking to our hearts. We just need to respond to that impulse, not bury it.

Love isn’t just friendliness and well-intended human affection. Love is so much bigger. Love is intelligent power for good, instead of destruction. Love is infinite meaning and purpose, instead of confusion and anger. Love is divine action and healing, instead of chaos and coping. Moreover, love is never limited, never without an answer, always present, because in its fullness, Love is God. And because divine Love is God, that means our ability to feel and express love is never determined by our personality type, or whether we “deserve” love, or the circumstances we find ourselves in, but by the forever fact that God is cherishing and animating us with love.

Loving in any and every circumstance keeps us awake to the fact that God, divine Love, is supreme.

When Christ Jesus said to “love your enemies,” he wasn’t excusing evil. Rather, he was insisting that no claims of evil can separate us from a recognition that the real power and reality of life is Love. At its essence, isn’t evil a very aggressive suggestion to get us to believe that something other than Love is in control? Jesus’ words have as much to do with the effect that loving has on us, as they do with how much of an impact that love will have on our enemies. That is why he ended his command with, “that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (see Matt. 5:43–45). In other words, loving in any and every circumstance keeps us awake to the fact that God, divine Love, is supreme, and that we are the children, the very expression, of Love.

What if you decided that the only responsibility you had tomorrow was to express love? I’m not saying you should skip classes or quit your job or stop engaging in social media. But what if you decided that the only thing you were truly tasked with doing at school, on your job, or online was to be conscious that Love is supreme? How different would our purpose in life feel? 

Isn’t that what Mary Baker Eddy was pointing us to when she wrote, “Truth, Life, and Love are the only legitimate and eternal demands on man, and they are spiritual lawgivers, enforcing obedience through divine statutes” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 184). Expressing Truth, Life, and Love—the only legitimate demands on you and me. Everything else is noise. When we accept that demand, we find our lives governed by good. We see that Love’s purpose is always for good, for health, for wholeness, and we find Love bringing those out in our lives.

People don’t tend to remember Jesus because of anything he did as a carpenter. They don’t remember Paul because of what he accomplished making tents. And they’re not likely to remember you or me because of any career moves we make. They remember the love, and the power of that love to heal and awaken in people a realization that the undergirding foundation of the whole universe is divine Love, is God. Because Love is the underlying Principle of all, we can do this. We can love. 

Scott Preller

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