This is the final week in the 5-Part “Healed” series that Revs. Brian and Kristen have been presenting, which has also been the basis of the Spirit Group meetings over the past month. This past Sunday in Rev. Brian’s talk on healing our relationships, he led with Jesus’ teaching to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This has always been a key lesson for me in Jesus’ teachings. Even after all of this time, I still feel like I am unpacking it; that there is still yet depth in this teaching that I have not yet tapped for myself. In this week’s blog, I want to share with you some of what I am unpacking this week on this dynamic teaching.
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Jesus affirmed this to be the second greatest commandment of all, just behind loving God with all your heart, mind and soul. This teaching is a variation of the golden rule that had been around in many cultures even before Jesus’ birth. So, he wasn’t really bringing a new teaching to the consciousness of humankind; however, he did reveal a more dynamic dimension to the importance of this foundational spiritual truth.
The teaching is much deeper than just simply being good to other people, or doing unto others as a rule of living. It is not a simple admonishment to “love your neighbor” or else risk punishment. The way Jesus presented this commandment had more to do with stating the undeniable truth of a spiritual principle, or divine law.
You will love your neighbor as you love yourself. It is inevitable. However, we can only give to others in direct measure to what we give to our own selves. For Jesus, self love is the same as love of God. He acknowledges this truth when teaches, “I and the Father are one.” Loving God with all of your heart, mind and soul is the greatest commandment. It is also the gateway to experiencing the greatest love of all.
Love Is The Harmonizing Power
In The Twelve Powers, Charles Fillmore defines love as the harmonizing power, among the twelve creative faculties of humankind. Biblically speaking, love is the greatest creative power of all. At its fullest expression, the creative power of love harmonizes all discord, strife, critical judgment, bias and prejudice. Love neutralizes fear and engenders a sense of safety and connection. Love transforms all fears of separation from God, from others, and even from our own selves. Love heals all things in need of healing, and restores our awareness to the foundational unity we share with everyone and everything. The creative energy of love heals any inner sense of separation, transforming our consciousness into an experience of unity, safety and peace.
In Unity, we affirm that there is only One Power and One Presence active in the universe and in our lives. Further, we affirm that this Power is absolute good, and ever present, everywhere, omnipresence. The power of love is the foundational creative power, the essence of God. Love is the optimal creative energy. Nothing would ever come into being without the creative power of love. Without love, nothing could ever be healed. There would be no miracles. There would be no life. Our part is but to see that this is true, and then to courageously allow this knowing to guide our every thought, word and action.
With Love, All Things Are Possible
Love is the quintessential creative energy, ultimately the only creative faculty that even matters, because without love, nothing is possible. Yet, with love, all things are possible. This power of love is within you, within me. No one who has ever lived knows the full measure of its capacity. Yet, it is universally recognized, by one name or another, as the ultimate power available to humankind. I believe this to be true, and yet I continue to be amazed to witness the resistance of humankind to correctly understand and express the power of love, especially as it relates to self love, the greatest love of all.
The most fundamental, essential creative energy, the power of all powers is within you, me and everyone, always available in unlimited capacity. Yet, despite this limitless, creative power at the very core of our being, we still yet struggle to direct some of that power in the direction of our own self care. We still yet resist learning how to love ourselves fully in positive, healthy and supportive ways. Too often, we sacrifice the creative power of our love on the altar of selflessness, believing that giving all of our love away to others is the most noble thing one might do. However, this can be a trap.
There Is Love Between Us
Too often in our interpersonal relationships, we tend to forget the self love part. The way we express love tends to be almost exclusively externally directed towards those whom we love the most, or are willing to serve. In principle, there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving or serving others. These are indeed noble acts, and they are hard wired into our soul. However, too often, we give to others until we are depleted, with nothing left in the tank to give our own selves.
In my experience, this tendency applies to everyone at one time or another in our lives. It is one of the most fundamental, archetype experiences we share with one another. We all come face to face in life with the realization that we have not been very generous with our own selves. We have been stingy with expressing love in the highest sense to our own selves.
The Irish have a way of acknowledging love between two people. Instead of saying, “I love you,” which is a subject-verb-object construction, the Irish often express love by affirming, “there is love between us.” Stated like this, we are simply acknowledging the presence of love that is already present and embodied within each one of us. In this sense, neither of us is lacking love for it is already present within, and between us. One does not need the other to express love in order to fill a void. Both are complete and grounded in the awareness that each one is an individual expression of the unlimited capacity for God’s love.
The Greatest Love Of All
What could be said about love requires more space than this modest blog entry allows. Poets, philosophers, sages, mystics and artists have been waxing eloquently about love for centuries. As a songwriter, I often think about love in musical terms, as inspiration for creative expression. In fact, over 80% of all popular hit songs are love songs of one sort or another. One of those love songs was written by composers Michael Masser and Linda Creed. Originally recorded in 1977 by jazz artist George Benson, it later became a worldwide smash recorded by Whitney Houston near the peak of her popularity. “The Greatest Love of All” is learning to love yourself.
So, as we conclude the “Healed” series, let us all remain mindful of this truth as we move through the coming days, weeks and months. Check in with yourself, how are you doing with the self love part? Remember, loving your self is how you express love to God first. Then, you are truly ready to your neighbor as yourself in the fullest sense of its potential.
Expressing love from this place is how we create and experience authentic connection, oneness, unity, and ultimately, peace. Celebrate the spiritual gift of love in your life this week. Do something that expresses your capacity for self love, and nurturing self care. Let us all be cognizant that the love we give to ourselves is the love we give to God, and the love we give to others. If we desire to expand our capacity to experience the greatest love of all more of the time in our lives, then we must resolve to do better at the self love part, and the rest will take care of itself naturally.