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Christmas and a truer sense of Love

From the December 2021 issue of The Christian Science Journal

A two-thousand-year-old story still engages our modern world. A man’s birth is still globally recognized. What was it about the way Christ Jesus lived his short life that has brought forth this reverence, influencing the building of nations and inspiring artistic masterpieces, culture, and even our current timeline? 

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains the impact of Jesus’ life when she writes, “Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit,—the law of divine Love” (p. 19).

Let’s pause to think about this: Christ Jesus, the Son of God, showed humanity “a truer sense of Love,” and this Love is the divine Principle of his teachings. Right there is a simple and yet profound answer to that opening question. All the elements of that humble and holy nativity night long ago, pointed to this Love. The shepherds, Mary, and Joseph were receptive witnesses to what was brought to light in the world—the strongest and most enduring lesson on the nature of God as omnipresent, divine Love and of man’s relation to this Love. Through the virgin birth of Jesus, the world received solid proof that this Love, which is divine Spirit, annuls matter and its supposed laws of existence. And Jesus’ appearing helps us glimpse the eternality of Love as divine Life. Is this why the angels sang of peace? Is this what truly illumined the skies?

From that meek start in the manger, Jesus grew with God, divine Love, uppermost in his thought. The Gospels speak of him growing up and genuinely loving others and the disciples, even when they strayed—including John, who suggested taking revenge on a village refusing to receive Jesus and his disciples; Peter, who would temporarily deny their friendship; and Judas, who would ultimately betray him. He loved Zacchaeus, who was thought to be a greedy tax collector. He loved and blessed the little children whom others would have kept from him. And he loved the scorned Samaritan woman whom he encountered at a well. 

During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus put forth the Beatitudes, promoting essential qualities needed for loving others such as meekness, purity, peacemaking, and spiritual inquisitiveness. To Jesus, loving others was not a mere nicety or something you do because you are trying to be a good person. He showed us that being loving is our true nature as God’s children, so loving others is a requirement, as Jesus stressed: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). 

As Christmas approaches, even if we feel that we already know what Jesus taught and are doing the best we can to live accordingly, we might be thinking, “I’m not particularly looking forward to the holidays.” We may think we don’t know how to feel more love for or from God or be more loving toward others. We may not know how we can possibly muster up more love for family members and friends who seem disappointing and difficult. “I just don’t have the skills or even the desire to love,” we may say. “And frankly, sometimes I don’t feel worthy of love myself.” 

Help is found in this most helpful of explanations from Jesus: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9). Jesus recognized that the source of love, which enabled him to love others, was our Father-Mother God, infinite, omnipotent Love. This eternal truth, the “Christ, Truth” that Jesus taught, is with us, revealing that our ability to reflect Love is as natural and consistent as the sun’s shining. Just as the sunbeam exists to radiate light, so we exist to emanate love. We don’t have to cheerlead ourselves into loving. We don’t have to generate love, nor can we withhold genuine love. We love by reflection. As the children, the offspring, of Love, you and I naturally reflect God’s inexhaustible love that is universal, all-inclusive, and unwavering. Divine Love is an operating Principle, not an option or a personal preference or a chore.

Jesus proved repeatedly through his healing works that God loves His creation. This means that God, Spirit, loves you, too—not as a mortal that has flaws, foibles, and has made mistakes. God sees you and loves you as He created you—Love’s spiritual idea—coming forth from the perfect spiritual expression of Himself, delightful, beautiful, healthy, innocent, and wonderful in every way. This is the crescendo of the Christmas message: that Christ is here, revealing that not only are you made to be loving, but you are also made to be loved and celebrated as divine Love’s child! Understanding this results in healing. 

One winter’s day I received a call, as a Christian Science practitioner, from a friend who asked me to pray for her. She was suffering from what she described as an aggressive infection with flu-like symptoms. She was feeling miserable and was concerned about not getting to enjoy Christmas. After hanging up, I rethought through the elements of the nativity, reminding us of Love as the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings. Love is totality itself. Love fills all space. It is the substance, the originator, the condition, the motivating and activating power, of all being. There is simply nothing outside of Love’s allness.

The active influence of the law of divine Love, operating through Christ, Truth, is a sign of “Immanuel” or “God with us.” It reaches our consciousness and casts out fear. It liberates, restores, and redeems. The law of Love binds up old hurts and wounds, and neutralizes all toxins—including toxic thinking and toxic relationships. It heals diseases—including those attributed to viruses—malformations, and malfunctions. It brings balance to our work and home lives. It companions us. It brings perspective to our thoughts and enables us to know what not to fret about, how to love the unlovable, and how to bring a soft answer to a difficult conversation. It purifies our thoughts of others. The law of Love opens our eyes to the beauty of life and brings an awareness of the infinite good available to us. 

I also prayed to understand that the kind of hateful and confused thinking that pushed King Herod to try to hunt down the baby Jesus, could not shake the conviction of God’s total power. This Herod-thought, the belief of a force that could destroy the Christ, Truth, could not operate in consciousness to bring sickness or stress to this season. Divine Love did not and could not create a force opposed to itself. Love would never mandate harm or suffering. There is no material intelligence to create a virus arrayed against this all-powerful God and His Christ. It is impossible for infinite Love’s environment to include harmful agents.

The Christ was also revealing a truer sense of Love to my friend’s thought. The truth that was appearing was that Love is the All-in-all. 

Within an hour she called back feeling completely well. We thanked God together, and she was able to enjoy the holiday season in freedom and health. 

The tranquility traditionally associated with the manger scene that Christians and others continue to enjoy reminds us to step away from all the hubbub and busyness of the season with its extra demands and connect with that true sense of Love. 

What if the star on the tree isn’t exactly straight, if the guests don’t arrive exactly on time for dinner, if the favorite Christmas dish is a little overcooked? It does not matter! What matters is feeling God’s all-encompassing love, through the Christ, for each family member, each store clerk we encounter, each fellow customer, and each driver sharing the same highway. 

The tender Christ is speaking to each of us, enriching the affections of all mankind, revealing to us that Love is not just the bottom line of being—it is the only line of being. And this truer sense of Love brings to our lives and to the world a calming, deep peace.

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