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Christ’s love for us

From the December 2018 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When I was a boy on our dairy farm, I felt the Christ touching my thought in a very clear way. My dad would send me out to the pasture to gather the cows for the evening milking, and I recall that in winter, especially on Christmas Eve, I would stop and listen to the cows patiently chomping mouthfuls of hay. In the near distance stood our farmhouse, with its lights ablaze and my mom singing as she readied for Christmas. Above me stretched a starry sky. There was a deep stillness. The thought of the Christ, the divine message from God, having so clearly resulted in the appearance of Christ Jesus on earth, filled my heart with awe.

At that time, in the Christian Science Sunday School, I was learning that I could hear this Christ message speaking to me in the uplifting thoughts of joy, helpfulness, and unselfishness that would often come to me. And I was learning to understand the reason underlying the Christ’s presence and voice in my life. In Sunday School and through daily study of the Lesson-Sermon found in the Christian Science Quarterly, I was learning that God created man in His own image, and that this man, including me, is spiritual and perfect—“the apple of his eye,” as Deuteronomy 32:10 so aptly says. 

My divine Parent was always at work teaching and showing me the intelligence and unparalleled love of God present with me and in my life. This communication from the Christ goes on in the consciousness of all of us and is often wonderfully apparent in young children. We call receptivity to the Christ “childlikeness,” but it is really our natural openness to the Christ-love from God speaking to each one of us and showing up in wonderful childlike qualities such as goodness, innocence, guilelessness, trust, gentleness, and so forth.

Since those childhood years, I can think of numerous instances when it was this Christ-love that made all the difference. In fact, the most active, vital force in my life has been, without question, the love of Christ. Sometimes it has guided me when I’ve felt lost. Other times it has inspired and moved me when I seemed stuck, or halted me when I was moving too quickly. It has sidetracked plans that were not right, and opened doors I had not even considered. When I’ve felt very much alone, the Christ has been a loving friend and companion. Many times it has answered my prayers—and sometimes it has led me to new ways of praying when petitions have gone unanswered, because there were better things in store for me or worthier desires to pursue. There was always a deep sense of love coming to me from that presence and activity of the Christ in my thought and life.

Another way Christian Science defines the Christ, God’s message, is as the divine idea of God. This Christ-idea is actually the love of God coming to our thought in meaningful and powerful ways. Key to understanding this Christ-love is understanding the distinction between Jesus and the Christ. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: “The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus, though it is commonly so used. Jesus was a human name, which belonged to him in common with other Hebrew boys and men, for it is identical with the name Joshua, the renowned Hebrew leader. On the other hand, Christ is not a name so much as the divine title of Jesus. Christ expresses God’s spiritual, eternal nature” (p. 333). 

The most active, vital force in my life has been, without question, the love of Christ.

It has been helpful for me to think of God’s omnipresence and omnipotence in my life as like the electrical grid bringing power to my home, with power lines going all the way back to the generating plant. In this analogy, the Christ is all the spiritual light flooding all space, including the rooms where I am reading, living, and working. The Christ brings constant spiritual light to my thought, turning me always to God, good. 

Foundational to the love of Christ in our lives is its role as our Savior. Yes, the Christ saves us! And this saving can be physical and moral. 

Once I was on a car trip with my son, who was an older teen at the time and had a lot of anger about many things. He would often go on bitter rants, and I prayed to know how to comfort him. I finally felt led to share what the Christ meant to me. I spoke briefly but from the heart about Jesus’ closeness to his Father, and how his deep trust in God’s ever-present goodness and tender love enabled him to respond to injustices with forgiveness and healing, rather than anger. 

My son was clearly touched by the Christ, for he declared as I finished, “Christ is real!” Then, a minute later, he told me that a feeling of light had swept through him as he was speaking. That proved to be a turning point for this young man, who is today entirely free of that debilitating anger.

The Christ saves us from wrong thinking and attitudes that could hurt ourselves or others. Another key point in the teachings of Christian Science is that man is God’s perfect likeness. We are Godlike in our being and nature, and since God is good—all good—our thought and action as God’s children must also be good.

When we depart from this divine goodness, we experience difficulty in moving forward. Why? Because we are meant to run with the divine breeze behind our back, so to speak. Our thoughts, desires, motives, and actions need to flow with the strong, uplifting winds of God. And when they don’t, it is like running against the wind. That is, when we are harboring anger or resentment, when we are dishonest or insincere, when we are being governed in some way by sensuality, self-seeking, or worldliness, we are going against our God-given integrity, our innate oneness with God. 

The Christ, however, is always at work addressing any human attempt to move against the flow of God. It is voicing the Christly way to us with such love and faithfulness as will cause us to see the light and move in the right direction.

Another aspect of the Christ is that it represents God, divine Love, as the provider for all. Within the nurturing love of the Christ we find a bottomless reservoir of good that meets our every need. “Fear not, little flock,” Jesus said, “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). The Christ can open doors for us, showing us resources we weren’t aware of and pointing out ways in which our energy and talent can be put to good use. The Christ-love shining on families and children, as well as on those who may be alone and in need, is a real and reliable aspect of God’s love for man. 

Another way the Christ soothes, heals, and sustains is in relationships. This comes through strongly in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus discusses such priceless spiritual qualities as purity, forgiveness, humility, and grace. Think how enriching and healing these qualities can be in a family, church, or workplace as they counteract tendencies toward faultfinding. Such Christ-love replaces criticism and its close cousin, complaint, with praise. Gratitude for good, expressed as praise, can lift the frequent menial tasks of life from drudgery into loving and faithful acts of service that cause us to sing, and not sigh, as we go about our day.

The Christ is also a quieter of fear and a stiller of storms. Chapter 6 of Mark’s Gospel includes a poignant account of Jesus’ disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee, toiling as they rowed their boat, “for the wind was contrary unto them.” When they saw Jesus walking toward them over the waves, they cried out, and he said to them, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” This reassuring answer calmed the disciples’ fear and the turbulent waters. In its all-knowing, all-conquering love, the Christ continues to say “Be not afraid” to each and every one of us. We just need to be receptive to its message.

The last verse in the Gospel of John points out that “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (21:25). Every one of these things, many of which John surely witnessed himself, was an expression of the healing Christ in that time. And in the centuries since, God’s expression of this very same Christ-love has continued, and it continues in our lives today—and every day.

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.… We love him, because he first loved us.

I John 4:16, 19 

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