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Do you think Jesus did what he did just for those who believed in him? At the time of the crucifixion, he had a very small group of followers.  Doesn’t it seem more likely that he taught and healed and rose from the dead for all mankind?  Whether they call themselves Christian or not?

The likelihood that any one of us will ever have to go through what Jesus did in the crucifixion is extremely small.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from him about humility and resolve – and tremendous affection for our fellow man.  It is practical Christianity to live in keeping with the powerful example he set. Yet, those qualities can be found in every corner of the globe, even in those who’ve never heard of Jesus.

Perhaps then, it’s not about the man himself, but the Christ he represented and demonstrated. Jesus was indeed unique, and there will never be another like him.  But it is the Christ, Immanuel – God with us – that is in fact universal and impartial, and is the basis of the relationship between God and His dear creation.  That relationship is as solid and enduring as the Christ is, and has nothing to do with religion.

Jesus’ prayer was so big and so inclusive that it still touches us today. (See John 17: 20,21)  It makes no boundaries as to doctrine or sect but simply yearns that we all be one, one in the biggest idea of all: the Love of God.

Jesus knew that Love intimately and shared it with anyone who would listen.  His healing work – raising the dead, transforming sinners, destroying disease – was a direct result of his understanding of the consistent and truly loving nature of God.  And he taught his followers that they could count on that same nature in their healing work.  And we can count on it in our healing work.

Neither God nor Christ has changed since that time, although the man Jesus has left the scene.  And we certainly can use Jesus as a model for Christian behavior.  But the power of the Christ touches lives everywhere now as before, instilling goodness, lifting from despair, overcoming tragedy, and healing simply as an expression of God’s love for creation – all creation.

That prayer of oneness is still valid today, regardless of any of the conditions that define us – and seem to separate us.  Let’s expect that prayer to soften our hearts, enable us to set aside our differences, find common ground, and a reason to love one another.

You don’t have to be a believer to do that!

 

That is my prayer every day.  It’s not to find more reasons to love, but more occasions to love.  And without condition. I’ll admit I’m not always successful. Still, making the effort keeps me pointed in the right direction.

Jesus said that anyone can love those that love them – that’s easy.  (Luke 6:32) But he asked us to love everyone.  And that would be how others would know we were his followers – because of our willingness and followthrough on loving all.  (John 13:35)

The Master saw his fellow man as beloved and necessary parts of God’s creation.  They weren’t good and bad, deserving and unworthy, keepers and tossers.  Instead, Jesus understood that all, every man, woman, and child, were created in his heavenly Father’s image and likeness, in the likeness of divine Love.  It was this understanding that enabled him to heal the sick, cast out sin, and raise the dead.

Looking for more opportunities to love – especially those who are different than us, or who disagree with us – ultimately opens the door to finding things that we have in common.  And there are so many when we take the time to look for them.  And that’s the point.

Is it easy?  No.  My prayer often includes asking for help in doing it: help to be willing, help to be consistent, help to be sincere, and to be effective.  Because love at its most effective is selfless.  That kind of love blesses all without regard to circumstances or participants.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote a wonderful treatise on love (Miscellaneous Writings, page 249).  I’ve excerpted a part here: “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth.”

May your day be filled with giving – and receiving – love in all directions.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

You may recognize that as a line from the old hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers by S. Baring-Gould.  It’s not sung much anymore but that sentiment is still valid.  Especially today.  Especially every day.  Because every day, we live side by side.

As the same hymn also says, we are “one in charity.”

That’s the assignment for all of us today: to be united in finding a way to be charitable towards one another, to extend courtesy, to give grace.  Regardless of who won the election, regardless of the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in, regardless of the church you go to or don’t go to, regardless of your education or your income, let us remember that we’re all neighbors and that united we stand.

Show your charity today, show your kindness today.  Don’t let today be about the election, but let it be about neighborliness.  Let it be about compassion. Let it be about the fact that administrations come and go, but we will always be one.

I don’t care about who you voted for.  I care about you.  Today and every day.

Join me.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Are you dismayed?

August 7, 2016

It seems as though there are so many disconcerting things going on in the world today: terrible violence; political negativity; famine; fire; fear.  And we may feel helpless to do anything about it, let alone make a contribution to any kind of improvement.

But there is something you can do.

If the situation seems hopeless, then bring to bear what you know about hope.

If you’re feeling helpless, then look for someone to be helpful to.

If the conditions are frightening, then introduce love into the mix.

If all seems lost, then share the good that you have found.

If you are only hearing lies, then tell the truth.

Does all of this seem counter-intuitive?  Jesus didn’t think so.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  No situation was too far gone.  Not even his own crucifixion.  He overcame that too.  He told his followers (including us): “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)  And this, he said, is why he could: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  (Matt 19:26)

We can remember that when it seems as though the human circumstances are overwhelming and the human solutions too feeble.  Our own resources may be limited or exhausted; our strength diminished or gone.  But God is infinite good, infinite help, infinite hope.  God’s power doesn’t yield to evil or fear or lack or even death.

Jesus promised that “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  In other words, if Jesus could overcome all of those issues by trusting God, then so can we as we take to heart his teachings; not through human strength but by relying wholly on the divine.

There is something you can do.

This beloved hymn (361 from the Christian Science Hymnal) has a wonderful promise:

Trust all to God, the Father,
Confide thou in none other,
He is thy sole defense;
He cares for thee past measure,
Seek Him who has thy treasure,
Thy helper is omnipotence.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

I believe in a God who is all powerful good, who doesn’t do evil or know evil.  I believe in a God who loves – whose very being IS love.  I believe in a God who comforts and strengthens and uplifts so that we can stand together and overcome evil – and reach out and comfort and strengthen and uplift those who need it.

The Apostle Paul says “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2nd Cor 1:3,4)

I believe this about God.  And I believe what Jesus said, when sharing what he knew about God with the world “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Jesus knew that God is pure good – of “purer eyes than to behold evil” as the prophet Habakkuk said. (Hab 1:13)  He knew that this goodness is provable and active.  He knew we must refuse to accept evil or act evilly or turn a blind eye to evil.  If we were to do that, we would perpetuate the power of evil.

Let us stand together to break the power of evil.  Let us, with all our hearts and minds and souls, resist evil and do good.  Let us rise above evil and bless and comfort and hold dear all who would do evil or suffer from evil.

Let us be better than evil and prove that evil can be overcome and cast down.

We can.  We must.

Let us start by comforting and strengthening and uplifting those who need it.

And let us forgive.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Jesus said, “if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”  (Luke 6:32)  It may be old fashioned language, but the point is if you only love those who:

  • agree with you;

  • look like you;

  • vote like you;

  • go to your church;

then your world probably feels pretty small and scary.

Jesus said love everyone and yourself.  Love those:

  • with whom you disagree;

  • who look different – maybe very different – than you;

  • who voted for the other person, or other party, or didn’t vote at all;

  • who go to a different church, or a synagogue, or mosque, or no church at all.

The Golden Rule doesn’t dismiss fear, it heals fear.  In fact, it requires its users to give up fear.

That is the best solution of all, where fear doesn’t separate us and love binds us together: brothers and sisters.  Neighbors.  People.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

…and not to leave the other undone.  You may recognize Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees.  (Luke 11:42)  He was encouraging them to not just perfect their understanding of the letter of the law but to live and love the spirit of the law as well.  He wanted them to do both.  His own life was a great illustration of knowing the law inside and out, but tempering it with love, using it to bless, not punish, his fellow man.

For example, when the Pharisees brought a woman to him whom they’d caught having sex with a man who wasn’t her husband, they rightly told him she should be stoned.  Jesus didn’t contradict their verdict.  But he did ask them to examine their own hearts to see which one of them was pure enough to throw the first stone.  Their anger and self-righteousness dissolved and they left the woman unscathed.  Then, Jesus pardoned her, changing her life forever.  (John 8)

In another instance, when a lawyer hoped to ensnare him in some false teaching about eternal life, Jesus asked him to recount what the law said. (Luke 10:25-37) The lawyer rightly quoted the Old Testament: love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.   Jesus praised him and reminded him that doing so was eternal life.  Still trying to trip him up, the lawyer asked how to identify one’s neighbor.  The Master told a poignant story that has come to be known as the parable of the Good Samaritan, making the point that one’s neighbor is anyone we come in contact with.  It was a startling but valid interpretation of the law that the lawyer couldn’t challenge.  Neither can we.

The Pharisees repeatedly chastised Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day.  And he repeatedly pointed out that freeing his fellow men and women from sin, disease, and death on the Sabbath was in keeping with God’s law of love.  In fact, he told them “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”  (Mark 2:27)  Jesus powerfully challenged the letter of the law that enabled a man to save an animal from danger on the Sabbath, but not a person.  Surely a person was worth more than a beast, he said.  (Luke 13:11-17) The spirit of the law was freedom for all.

We too can understand the freedom that comes from knowing the law inside and out and practicing it for healing and helping, rather than condemning or belittling.  Only in this way are we actually following the teachings of Christ Jesus.  We can do both.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.