Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. – I John 4
I’ve been performing a sort of experiment the last couple days. The experiment started when I was conducting the service yesterday morning, and reading with my way cool podium partner, Liz. Yesterday’s Bible Lesson was on the “Doctrine of Atonement” – or, the doctrine of “at-one-ment” – the concepts of Love and unity and one-ness filled every section of the readings. And, as I was listening to Liz read her citations from The Bible, I found myself mentally replacing the word “God” in the citations with the word “Love.”
Liz read (from Deuteronomy 6): “The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all they might… Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you…” and I heard: “God is one Love: And thou shalt love Love with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might… don’t pursue, seek, follow, or desire anything but Love…”.
Liz read (from Ezekiel 33): “Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord.” And I heard: “Come, I pray you, and hear what Love is saying…”.
Liz read (from Psalms 77): “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God. Thou art the God that doest wonders…” and I heard “Love’s way is the way to find peace: who and what is so great as Love? Love performs wonders.”
Liz read (from Jeremiah 32): “…the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work…” and I heard “Love is mighty, strong, and powerful. To follow the counsel and course of Love and to perform the work of Love gives us power.”
This experiment has been a revelation for me. It has added, for me, a new depth to the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” If you think of “Love” as the “me”, then what that first commandment is really saying is “Don’t put anything else before Love. Don’t make anything else more important in your life than Love. Don’t worship any power but Love.” And duh, right? Haven’t we all found that when we pursue money, prestige, position, material possessions, political power – when those things are our goals – we’re never really satisfied. I have learned through my own life experience that to follow after anything but Love is not going to bring me joy, or peace, or wholeness.
In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Dost thou ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind’? This command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. This is the El Dorado of Christianity.” And in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Replace “kingdom of God” with “Love” and see where that leads you. Whoahhh…. right? 🙂
Jesus tells us (Luke 17: 21), “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Love is within us. We don’t have to die to experience the kingdom of God. It is ours to claim right now. Love lived is heaven on earth.
I know this has been said a gazillion times before, but that doesn’t make it less true: It – everything, life itself – really is all about Love, isn’t it? Love is the purpose. Love is the solution. Love really is the answer.
I used this hymn – with words by Mary Baker Eddy – during the service yesterday. I believe Eddy’s words totally capture the power of Love:
Brood o’er us with Thy sheltering wing,
’Neath which our spirits blend
Like brother birds, that soar and sing,
And on the same branch bend.
The arrow that doth wound the dove
Darts not from those who watch and love.
If thou the bending reed would break
By thought or word unkind,
Pray that His Spirit you partake,
Who loved and healed mankind:
Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain,
That make men one in love remain.
Learn, too, that wisdom’s rod is given
For faith to kiss, and know;
That greetings glorious from high heaven,
Whence joys supernal flow,
Come from that Love, divinely near,
Which chastens pride and earthborn fear.
Through God, who gave that word of might
Which swelled creation’s lay:
“Let there be light, and there was light.”
What chased the clouds away?
’Twas Love whose finger traced aloud
A bow of promise on the cloud.
Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.