This past Sunday, I had the honor and privilege of standing in for Revs. Brian and Kristen while they were out of town attending a family wedding in Seattle. In the talk, titled “Love In Action,” I talked about the need for us to develop a “language of oneness,” which is the same as saying we need to continue growing our capacity to express God’s Love. Among the ideas I presented was that love is not automatic, it is a choice. Just because God is love, and we are created in the image and likeness of God, it does not mean that everything we do is automatically loving, either to ourselves or others.
As A Course In Miracles teaches, in any given moment, we are always choosing between love and fear. Ultimately, this is the only choice we are ever making, or will ever make. We either respond from love, or react out of fear. Whichever one we choose is the one that we are “teaching” in any given moment. We are teaching love, or teaching fear. Our responsibility is to do our best to always choose love, to teach love, no matter what. Even when someone or something offends our sensibilities, we are not exempted from responding in love. This week’s blog article reprises an article from earlier this year as a reminder for each of us to “teach only love for that is what we are.”
The Meaning of Love Cannot Be Taught
It could be said that the main purpose of A Course In Miracles [ACIM] is to teach the lessons necessary for us to learn how to teach only love. ACIM does not aim to teach the “meaning of love,” which it maintains is “beyond what can be taught.” However, it does aim to teach us how to “remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” in order that we may know the love we are. It achieves this aim through a combination of both theoretical and practical lessons. However, ACIM repeatedly emphasizes the value of application over theory.
Students of ACIM are not asked to believe or to judge the ideas, they are merely asked to “use them,” to put them into practice. It is the practical application and use of the ideas that reveal their meaning and demonstrate their truth. In this way, practical experience determines success, rather than theological expertise or religious fervor.
The Value Of Anything Is Usefulness
ACIM teaches that everything in the universe operates under one creative principle: the law of love. Every word of its text and every lesson in its workbook serves to correct any errors in perception that may block one’s awareness to the omnipresence and creative power of the love principle. ACIM‘s ultimate lesson is that we are to teach only love. Its usefulness as a learning device in teaching this lesson determines its value. Nothing else.
Ineffective teaching devices have no value to a teacher interested in his student’s learning. As a teacher, Jesus was certainly interested in the spiritual progress of his disciples. To Jesus, or indeed any master teacher, the only meaningful consideration when choosing among teaching devices is, does it facilitate or impede learning? If it facilitates learning, it has value. It it does not, it is worthless.
Only Love Is Real
Is it helpful to learn that only love is real? If your goal is the release from fear and self-created illusion, then yes, it is very helpful. Is it useful to learn that love is an all-encompassing power to which there is, in reality, no opposite? Once again, as a means of release from fear and illusion, a resounding yes is the only meaningful answer.
In its introduction, ACIM distills its entire lesson down to: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.” Is there practical value in learning that these two short statements of principle are the gateway to the peace of God? If your goal is to know or experience the peace of God, then certainly there is value. For the teacher, the only meaningful evaluation is whether this particular form of lesson is effective in facilitating learning.
If God Is Love, Then So Are You
Humankind has been attempting to learn about the nature of God, virtually since recorded time began. Every single person teaches what they believe (or do not believe) about God in everything they think, say and do. There are countless ways and means to both teach and learn. The only real difference among them is their relative usefulness or effectiveness in facilitating learning. Among the many ways we have defined or described God, one of the most common is: God is Love. Not, “God loves,” or “God is loving;” but rather, God IS the very principle of Love itself.
All knowledge, all truth, everything real that has ever been created is so because of the law of love. This includes you and me. We are alive because the law of love is active in the universe. Without the law, nothing comes into being. Unity’s second principle states that we are spiritual beings created in the image and likeness of God. If you believe this principle to be true, then, if God is love, so are you.
Teach Only Love, For That Is What You Are
Jesus knew this lesson well. In truth, it is the only lesson he taught over and over again in many different forms. ACIM maintains that even Judas’ seeming betrayal and Jesus’ subsequent crucifixion are ultimately positive learning devices. In Chapter 6 of the text, titled “The Lessons of Love,” ACIM states: “The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear: Teach only love, for that is what you are.”
You may stumble at first in trying to see how apparent betrayal and extreme punishment can be used to teach only love; however, it need not be this way. A major purpose of Jesus’ ministry was to teach humankind’s fundamental unity with God. Jesus knew this to be true so profoundly, he knew that Judas could never betray him. The only way Judas could have betrayed Jesus was to somehow talk God into abandoning Jesus. Since this is fundamentally impossible, no betrayal ever took place. Since no betrayal occurred, there is no grievance that requires forgiveness. Therefore, Jesus’ only appropriate response was to continue loving Judas as one of his cherished apostles.
Jesus knew beyond doubt that he and the Father are One, and that nothing, even apparent betrayal and crucifixion, could break that bond. Had Judas learned this lesson as well as Jesus did, he would have found no cause to feel guilt and shame, nor to take his own life. By using such an extreme form of lesson to teach only love, Jesus provides us with a positive demonstration of how we are to respond to people and circumstances where we may feel aggrieved or betrayed. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Like Jesus, we too are created in the image and likeness of God. God being love; therefore, we too are love. Love is the foundation upon which our true spiritual identity is born. It is what we are. Why would we ever want to teach something that we are not? It makes no sense. If we simply maintain fidelity with our true nature, which is love, then, like Jesus, we cannot fail to teach the most meaningful lesson possible. Teach only love, for that is what you are. This is the practical application of the principle. Our part is to make no exceptions in the application of the principle. In every circumstance with every person, even the ones who seem to most grievously injure you teach only love, for that is what you are.