There are two themes that ring out clearly from the hundreds — actually thousands — of stories I have read this month: first, that we all deeply desire to be known and loved by our Creator God, and second, that we all desperately need to know that the people we are closest to, our families and friends, love us just because we breathe. Pretty simple, right?
Unconditional love – No Ifs About It
BY WILLIAM H. HILL
From the September 4, 2006 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
THE LIFE OF Christ Jesus represents the greatest model of unconditional love. Jesus demonstrated the true, divine sense of love—with no strings attached. No “I will love you if ….” His Sermon on the Mount in the Bible advocates the importance of loving our neighbor unconditionally—being willing to turn the other cheek and go the next mile (see Matt. 5:39, 41). Whether we like these statements of truth or not, they come from the wisest man who ever lived. Jesus never justified hatred, anger, or violence. Rather, he advocated love in the purest sense of the word. And he demonstrated this love so we could follow his example.
I often turn to marriage and family as places where we see unconditional love in real-time action, and where we’re often tested the most in our understanding of it. Mistakes arise when we first look to our spouse, to our children, or to other family members as our source of love. So it’s imperative that we get our relationship with God right first. Mary Baker Eddy said we must “… rise to the true consciousness of Life as Love,—as all that is pure, and bearing the fruits of Spirit” (Science and Health, p. 391). And where do we find that pure sense of love? In God.
Here’s an example. I got a call from a man I knew whose wife had recently passed away. When he came to see me in my practitioner’s office, he was totally distraught and discouraged. He wanted to remarry, but said there were no prospects to be found. “I’ve looked everywhere,” he told me. I challenged him to examine his thought. I said, “We’re talking about love here, aren’t we? Are you perhaps looking to the wrong source for this love?”
Christian Science teaches that we have unconditional love through God, and my friend was a student of this Science. As we talked, he realized that what he needed to do was look to his divine source for love—to God and His idea. I pointed out that to do this, he needed to change the basis of his thinking, to rise up in his thought—literally, to stand up and get a better view—so he could see things in a whole new light. He could see that he had been dwelling on a concept of spouse and companionship based on a limited, condition-oriented view of love. An “I will love you, if you love me” kind of love.
My friend was interested in changing his perspective. We talked about Mrs. Eddy’s use of the phrase, “Love wedded to its own spiritual idea” (ibid., p. 575). If we love God supremely, then all of our other relationships will be informed and transformed by this pure love as well. Our relationship with God is reciprocal. Each day He brings us His gifts of joy, satisfaction, balance, patience, and kindness. And by expressing His qualities, we, in effect, do the same for Him. Mrs. Eddy used an unusual word in regard to marriage—she called it a “revelation.” She wrote, “… this revelation will destroy forever the physical plagues imposed by material sense” (ibid.). When we better understand our spiritual relationship to God, then all other relationships come into balance, too. Removing material sense from the picture helps to achieve a purer, unconditional love.
When my friend left my office, he said he felt as if he were on cloud nine. He had a new purpose. He’d committed himself to going up higher in his understanding of divine Love. I wasn’t surprised when he called me back a month or so later to say he’d met a lovely woman. They were married soon after, and have lived together happily in the many years since. His change of thinking from a gender-oriented sense of love to an unconditional love for God, transformed his experience.
I think it’s important to ask yourself how you define your neighbor—your spouse, your child, your boss, your colleague. Is your definition material, or spiritual? You may think this is difficult when you see imperfections—unlovable qualities. But when we see ourselves as wedded to Love, we think in terms of ideas, not matter. What is the idea that you have set up as a husband, wife, or neighbor? It’s important to remember that you are wedded to your own concept and to hold your loved ones in consciousness as inherently good and spiritual. Mrs. Eddy shed some light on this when she wrote, “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man [you could substitute husband, wife, neighbor], who appeared to him where sinning, mortal man appears to mortals” (ibid., pp. 476–477). This correct view of man heals anything—because it draws on unconditional love.
In a true sense of love, you never give away your dominion. You are never tempted to say, “If only my husband or wife would change, then I would be happy.” By setting up a condition, you fall into the trap of thinking something material can govern your happiness. You never need to replace your innate inclination to love with anger, hatred, or violence. And fortunately, each of us has the divine right and the privilege to be always in control of our emotions. But sometimes we have to work on it.
I’ve learned in the healing practice of Christian Science that I render myself ineffective the minute I allow my thought to be permeated with a lie. In line with this, my concept of my neighbor has to include love. And to do this, I must begin with myself. I must see my neighbor and myself as children of Love, God, whether we’re talking about the fighting and political unrest in the world—or any other human label. I simply cannot practice Christian Science if I’m accepting truth or substance in anything the material senses present. To pray for others, to heal, I cannot possibly accept that there’s ever any “life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter” (ibid., p. 468). You can’t solve a problem on the same plane of consciousness where the problem began or claims to exist.
To truly love, we need to give up a false sense of ego, because unconditional love is the absence of an ego apart from God.
To truly love, we need to give up a false sense of ego, because unconditional love is the absence of an ego apart from God. Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing” ( John 5:30). Jesus loved his Father-Mother, God, more than anything. In fact, he made the greatest sacrifice that anyone can make because he was willing to give up his human ego. He reached a state that Mary Baker Eddy touched on in her definition of ego in Science and Health as “… but one I, or Us” ( p. 588). We can all adopt that state of mind that says, “I can only do what God is causing me to do.” That’s pure reflection. When we begin to see more clearly that there is only one Ego, or God, then we love without conditions. Mrs. Eddy wrote in her “scientific statement of being,” “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation …” (ibid., p. 468). So Mind is knowing, and you are what Mind is knowing. You can’t do anything the opposite of Mind.
Expressing unconditional love rules out the possibility of disease, because love is never in conflict. Disease, on the other hand, inevitably involves some sort of conflict. For instance, cancer in its simplest form is a belief of a battle between good cells and bad cells in the body. I have seen when a person’s thought is calmed and they’re no longer angry, they then experience physical healing. It’s the unconditional cleanliness and purity of love that heals. Just like when you see a pond that’s calm and still, reflecting perfectly the landscape around it. If you throw in a rock, it destroys the pond’s ability to reflect. Our consciousness is similar. We cannot throw in the rocks of anger, hatred, anxiety, regret, distrust. If we entertain these thoughts in consciousness, we destroy our ability to reflect. So it’s important always to refute the idea that there can be conflict of any kind in our bodies, or, for that matter, in the world. We can always choose to love—not the evil or diseased person—but the person of God’s creating.
Unconditional love is a two-way street. It’s “… Love … reflected in love” (ibid., p.17). When Love is “wedded to its own spiritual idea,” then we can experience the marriage feast—all the fruits that come when we commit our lives to loving God supremely. We can experience the abundant good God is giving us each moment, right now. And there won’t be any strings attached.