“A Man Greatly Beloved”

From the Christian Science JournalJune 1915, by


Above my desk hangs the familiar picture of Daniel in the den of lions. This one is unframed, a small print mounted upon a piece of cardboard; and below the picture is written, “A Man Greatly Beloved.” It was sent me many years ago by one who had just begun the study of Christian Science. At that time she was a stranger in a great city, with a very meager salary. “This is the season of giving,” she wrote, “and I will not be cheated of its joy by any false sense of lack. It will not matter to you that this little gift cost only seventeen cents: you will know what goes with it. I am trying to know with Daniel that God loves me.” She knew she would be understood; but she could not know how many times in the years that have passed since then the memory of her high-hearted courage and generous faith has come back to me like a trumpet call; nor how many times the little phrase written upon her gift has taught anew its solemn and beautiful lesson.

When we come to see, through Christian Science, what the true character of God is, it is comparatively easy for us to see why we should love Him; but it is not always easy to realize that God loves us. Especially is this true of that large number whose early teaching pictured Him as a stern and vengeful judge, swift to punish all human frailty. Usually we have turned away from this concept of God before coming to Christian Science; but early impressions are very tenacious, and we are sometimes dismayed to discover that quite unconsciously we are being governed by the old false concept, saying with our lips that God is Love, and proclaiming with our actions that we are unhappy and afraid.

“All nature teaches God’s love to man,” says Mrs. Eddy on page 326 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” “Herein is love,” cries the beloved disciple, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us. . . . We love him, because he first loved us.” God is Love; we say it over and over again, this beautiful word that human sense esteems too good to be true. We yearn for its comforting reassurance; and yet, too often, we are afraid to take God at His word. We fail to realize how essential this fact is to all true demonstration, this “sweet and certain sense that God is Love” (Science and Health, p. 569). All through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, this thought runs like a golden thread, binding all its wealth of spiritual experience into one harmonious design. Moses saw it when he declared, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Jeremiah caught a glimpse of it in his stormy and troubled life when he declared, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Isaiah carried on the high refrain, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” But nowhere in the Old Testament does its practical efficacy appear more clearly than in the career of Daniel.

If we read Daniel’s story again with this thought, we shall find that when the vision came to him, or the voice spoke to him, it was in these words: “O man greatly beloved, “— and thereupon follows Daniel’s clear demonstration of the power of God. Nearly six hundred years later, when Jesus of Nazareth went down into Jordan to be baptized of John at the beginning of his ministry, the same voice spoke to him: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And later, when the shadow of the cross was already beginning to fall athwart his earthly pathway, came that voice again from the mount of transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”

So Daniel braved the dangers of the lions’ den and the treacherous undercurrents of a king’s court in the strength of the divine conviction that he was beloved of God; while Jesus, the great Way-shower, healed the sick and sinning, and triumphed over death, because he knew he was the beloved Son of God. Is it not plain that both possessed the secret of all power? Is it not plain that we also must arrive at the same conviction if we are to follow the Way-shower in the way he has appointed,—if we, too, are to conquer sin and death? “God is love;” “God so loved the world,”—these are not beautiful platitudes to which we may give only a yearning assent; they are profound convictions, which we must make our own and act upon until love, being made perfect in us, casts out all fear, and we demonstrate in fact what we claim in belief, that “now are we the sons of God.”

This understanding is not lightly won. No one of impure heart will ever find sustaining strength in such a vision. But ah, how many humble and contrite hearts have stayed themselves upon that divine assurance, and found themselves delivered from the lions’ den of material sense. Christ Jesus left its legacy of joy to his disciples, and his last prayer was: “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee. . . . And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.”

It seems sometimes that it requires more courage to take possession of good than it does to reject evil. The poor, troubled human thought, looking upon all things from a personal, material standpoint, is tempted to regard divine Love as incredible, and would abase itself before it as before the unattainable. Not so did the Nazarene look upon it. To him it was a present fact, which governed every thought and act, and armed them with its own divine power. Not so did Mary Baker Eddy look upon it when she declared that “divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object” (Science and Health, p. 304), thus lifting man’s relationship to God out of the realm of human opinion and personal caprice into its rightful place as a law that cannot be abrogated or broken. Neither can it be obeyed in part; for it is vital, indivisible. With what conviction can we tell our brother of God’s love, if we do not claim for ourselves “the love that God hath to us”?

When we come to see that it is our necessity to claim this wondrous gift because it is our birthright also, we shall allow no false sense of inability or self-condemnation to hinder its acceptance. With humility and joy unspeakable we shall take our Father’s hand, and go forth to meet each day with the serene confidence of “a man greatly beloved.”




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