Our fence was gone! While we were away for the day, our neighbor removed the fence that separated his yard from ours, leaving our back yard exposed to a busy street. It left me with hard feelings, even after the fence was eventually replaced.
It has been helpful to think about this occurrence in light of the two great commandments Christ Jesus taught.
The first is, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and the second is, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30, 31 New King James).
To me, the first commandment requires keeping God right at the center of thought. The Bible says that God is Love itself. (See 1 John, chapter 4.) Anything then, that isn’t like divine Love, like chaotic emotions or hurt feelings, but finds itself at the heart and soul of what we’re thinking about, has to give way to God’s nature as infinite, ever-present Love.
Because God is infinite, divine Love’s nature--found in tender and strong spiritual qualities like kindness, calm, and thoughtful consideration--must be as present as the divine creator of these qualities. And they also must be present in every individual, right here and now.
Which brings us to the second commandment, which holds hands with the first. A great way to love our neighbor, next-door or around the world, is to confidently affirm that peace, intelligence, and inexhaustible lovingkindness—God’s nature—is able to be expressed and witnessed by everyone. No one is left out, not you or your neighbor. We all have access to all the goodness of His nature.
Mary Baker Eddy supported that view. She wrote, “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 13).
Confidently affirming that divine Love is at the center of His son’s and daughter’s spiritual and present identity, helps us to see God’s nature being expressed, even in the face of what seems to be selfishness, arrogance, and thoughtlessness. This type of affirmation is effective prayer and brings tangible results. It led me to see my next-door neighbor in a different light.
Recently, I came home to find him feeding a skinny stray cat in our driveway. It may seem like a small act, but I knew I was getting a glimpse of God’s ever-present qualities of thoughtfulness, purity, and innocence. It’s impossible to hold on to hard feelings and see Love’s nature at the same time, since they are opposites.
Since then, I have felt a genuine willingness to appreciate the good my neighbor includes. Instead of avoiding each other, we’ve been exchanging friendly waves and smiles.
Keeping the two great commandments, by loving God’s infinite and good nature, and seeing it at the core of my identity and everyone else’s, has enriched my life and brought healing. It can do the same for you!
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!