There is a lovely passage early in the text of A Course in Miracles where Jesus talks about how much he love us while clarifying that he will not allow us to hurt ourselves. He is witnessing to the power of love. It is forever kind but does not compromise.
I will love you and honor you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true (T-4.III.7:7).
In a sense, Jesus is saying that his love is unconditional – even unto respecting our errors. However, he will not support our errors – he will not “uphold” what is untrue because to do so would be fundamentally unloving.
This passage appeals to me in part because I see it in a model for my own day-to-day existence. Often, I confuse kindness with giving people what they want – and, by extension, that their kindness to me means I get what I want. This belief can be hidden quite deep but it’s there. On some level, I take literally Jesus’ admonition to love your enemies.
If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
In the course, this shows up in The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum with a slight – a helpful, I think – twist.
Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something “outrageous,” do it because it does not matter. Refuse and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you (T-12.III.4:1-2).
This is really a call to interior clarity: to understand what matters in truth and what does not. If your brother asks for a coat, give it to him because in truth the coat is illusory as is the body it would warm.
Jesus revisits this passage in The Forgiveness of Illusions.
I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you . . . (T-16.I.6:4-5).
I think that qualification at the end is critical. Love can readily say “yes” or “no” but it always does so from a place of kindness, which is to say that it always sees what is without judgment.
Look again at the first passage I quoted. Jesus loves me without qualification. But if I go to him in prayer and demand a Maserati or six pack abs or the demotion of annoying co-worker he is not going to give those things to me. He is going to recognize the fundamental error upon which they are premised and simply wait – loving, gently – for me to see recognize it as well.
I will never forsake you any more than God will, but I must wait as long as you choose to forsake yourself. Because I wait in love and not in impatience, you will surely ask me truly. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call (T-4.III.7:8-10).
Thus, true service is not giving our brothers and sisters what they demand, but rather seeking always to perceive them as Jesus would. If we turn within and ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to join and direct us, then we will inevitably be led to Love. Our behavioral expression will be naturally and surely guided. We might offer the coat, we might offer a kind word, we might offer money, we might offer a dinner invitation, we might offer a ride to a shelter . . . who knows?
Jesus knows – and the Holy Spirit knows. So we don’t have to.
Thus, the well-being of our brothers and sisters is forever in better hands than ours. Our job is simply to practice turning to Jesus and allowing ourselves to be his instruments of peace and love. The prayer of Saint Francis is always pertinent.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
And it all begins with surrendering our will in favor of God’s – allowing ourselves to be instruments not of the ego’s hateful chaos but rather of the gentle, unchanging and eternal Love that is God and Christ in God and – by virtue of Creation – God and Christ in us.
Jesus tells us how to do it: seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and the rest will be taken care of for us. It’s not rocket science. It’s love.