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21 STEPS TO A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

Step 19: Loving Each Other 

We increasingly value others as beloved sons and daughters of God and strive to love each of them as does our Father in heaven.

How to love is the ages’ question, the grail of prophets’ search: how to love as parents love their children, how to love others as our Father loves us. How do we begin to love, and how can we make love last? It begins in mystery, from an unknown place deep within, for unknown reasons. We understand not why we love, only that we do, for love’s ether resists analysis by itself or others. True love calculates no cost, effort, or reward, but simply exists in a spirit of defenseless kindness. How can we capture such a spirit in the larger world, toward the unlovely, the unkempt, the cruel, and the unfaithful? Can we look at our brothers and sisters through our Father’s eyes and see what he sees, without judging?

The garments of love are made from the Father’s cloth. We draw the stuff of love from his storehouse and fashion it to clothe the naked. Acting out love precipitates true love; we love by loving. Acting as if we love ignites love itself, for the more loving we are toward others, the more that love reflects back, amplified in the mutual experience, creating in its object the compulsion to reciprocate.

Those who doubt the power of love know not the joy of life. Those who place things above love are prisoners of illusion, for no possession or position is worth the loss of love, which endures when the heaps of things we gather rust or go to others. Love outlasts things and is sweeter. Love seines out the good in experience, enduring when all else fails. Love soothes our fevered foreheads and stays the executioner’s hand. Love alone makes our lives worthwhile and God more real, not solitary prayers by cloister walls. Love bridges the chasm between what we are and what we can become; it gives us all we have and are, and without it we are empty, trapped in a debtor’s prison of negativity and despair.

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These high levels of human living are attained in the supreme love of God and in the unselfish love of man. If you love your fellow men, you must have discovered their values. Jesus loved men so much because he placed such a high value upon them. You can best discover values in your associates by discovering their motivation. If someone irritates you, causes feelings of resentment, you should sympathetically seek to discern his viewpoint, his reasons for such objectionable conduct. If once you understand your neighbor, you will become tolerant, and this tolerance will grow into friendship and ripen into love. 100:4.4

If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.

You cannot truly love your fellows by a mere act of the will. Love is only born of thoroughgoing understanding of your neighbor's motives and sentiments. It is not so important to love all men today as it is that each day you learn to love one more human being. If each day or each week you achieve an understanding of one more of your fellows, and if this is the limit of your ability, then you are certainly socializing and truly spiritualizing your personality. Love is infectious, and when human devotion is intelligent and wise, love is more catching than hate. But only genuine and unselfish love is truly contagious. If each mortal could only become a focus of dynamic affection, this benign virus of love would soon pervade the sentimental emotion-stream of humanity to such an extent that all civilization would be encompassed by love, and that would be the realization of the brotherhood of man. 100:4.5&6

In the true meaning of the word, love connotes mutual regard of whole personalities, whether human or divine or human and divine. . . . Everything nonspiritual in human experience, excepting personality, is a means to an end. Every true relationship of mortal man with other persons--human or divine--is an end in itself. 112:2.3&4

Jesus naturally loved his people; he loved his family, and this natural affection had been tremendously augmented by his extraordinary devotion to them. The more fully we bestow ourselves upon our fellows, the more we come to love them; and since Jesus had given himself so fully to his family, he loved them with a great and fervent affection. 129:0.2

The disciples early learned that the Master had a profound respect and sympathetic regard for every human being he met, and they were tremendously impressed by this uniform and unvarying consideration which he so consistently gave to all sorts of men, women, and children. He would pause in the midst of a profound discourse that he might go out in the road to speak good cheer to a passing woman laden with her burden of body and soul. He would interrupt a serious conference with his apostles to fraternize with an intruding child. Nothing ever seemed so important to Jesus as the individual human who chanced to be in his immediate presence. 138:8.9

From the Sermon on the Mount to the discourse of the Last Supper, Jesus taught his followers to manifest fatherly love rather than brotherly love. Brotherly love would love your neighbor as you love yourself, and that would be adequate fulfillment of the "golden rule." But fatherly affection would require that you should love your fellow mortals as Jesus loves you. 140:5.1

"You well know the commandment which directs that you love one another; that you love your neighbor even as yourself. But I am not wholly satisfied with even that sincere devotion on the part of my children. I would have you perform still greater acts of love in the kingdom of the believing brotherhood. And so I give you this new commandment: That you love one another even as I have loved you. And by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you thus love one another." 180:1.1

In the kingdom of the believing brotherhood of God-knowing truth lovers, this golden rule takes on living qualities of spiritual realization on those higher levels of interpretation which cause the mortal sons of God to view this injunction of the Master as requiring them so to relate themselves to their fellows that they will receive the highest possible good as a result of the believer's contact with them. This is the essence of true religion: that you love your neighbor as yourself. 180:5.7

 



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