“Buddha was not Buddhist. Jesus was not Christian. Muhammad was not Muslim. They were teachers who taught Love. Love was their religion.”
I ran across this aphorism on Pinterest recently. As a Christian Scientist who grew up believing that God loves everybody regardless of “the details”—race, religion, creed, or culture—I must admit it made me smile.
It also got me thinking about the nature of love itself.
As humans, we tend to think of love as a beautiful but sometimes fleeting emotion that governs our relationships. We love our parents and children and spouses, yet these same people can frustrate and annoy us, too. This sentiment may sound familiar: I love my husband … but I might love him just a bit more if he stacked the dishwasher properly and actually remembered to turn it on! Even the highest form of human love—a parent’s unconditional love for their children—can have its peaks and valleys.
When reading the Gospels, one gets the sense that Jesus was talking about an altogether different kind of love. He counselled us to love our enemies, and he demonstrated this love by healing the ear of a soldier—the one Peter cut off with his sword—who came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He even forgave those who crucified him while hanging from the cross.
The apostle John reiterated this message when he wrote: “God is Love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Mary Baker Eddy, the discover and founder of Christian Science, came to realize there was a connection between God’s love and healing, too. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she wrote: “If the (Christian) Scientist reaches his patient through divine Love, the healing work will be accomplished in one visit, and the disease will vanish into its native nothingness like dew before the morning sunshine.”
That’s sounds nice. But what does it actually mean?
Perhaps an example will help. I recently read an article in the Christian Science Sentinel by Deborah Huebsch (March 2, 2020) that says a lot about what healing is and how it happens. The author had been sitting in bed, reading a passage in Science & Health about the 23rd Psalm—which emphasizes the all-pervasive nature of divine Love—when she felt Love surrounding her, like an exquisite light.
Just then, her sister called to pour out a long list of grievances: she’d lost her job, didn’t have any money, and was afraid she’d be evicted from her apartment. As her sister spoke, Deborah realized that since God’s love is everywhere it embraced her sister, too.
“Maybe you should expect something good to happen,” she said.
Annoyed, her sister hung up.
Later that day her sister called to say she’d been offered a job, and two weeks later she came to Deborah’s apartment with a bouquet of daisies. She admitted she’d been addicted to heroin—injecting herself daily—and that the phone call was to ask for drug money. Yet something amazing happened after hanging up the phone: she felt no more desire for heroin. She’d expected withdrawal symptoms—but there were none.
“I was amazed. I hadn’t been praying to heal anything,” wrote Deborah in the article. “This experience convinced me that the healing work Jesus and Mrs. Eddy did resulted from their consistent, conscious dwelling in that abiding sense of God’s love.”
So the next time somebody says love is the answer, you’ll know it’s not just a platitude. Where God’s ever-present Love is concerned, it’s the literal truth.
Matt Jackson has been fascinated by how science and religion relate to each other for as long as he can remember. He is a member of the Christian Science church in Victoria, BC, and has been a professional writer and editor for 26 years.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, April 17th 2021