When I think of service, the form almost always assumes something resembling the Catholic Worker’s model of corporal mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, offering hospitality to the homeless, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead.
The scriptural premise lies in Matthew 25:34-40. What we do for the least among us is done unto God.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course, and a lot that is clearly helpful and kind. My own ACIM teacher and spiritual preceptor, Tara Singh, was deeply committed to service that manifested, in part at least, in this way. It continues to be a component of my own evolving understanding of what it means to “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
However, the greatest service that we render one another – the ground from which its other forms spring – is seeing in each other the face of Christ, the changeless reality that lies beyond the inherent deception of form.
Your brother has a changelessness in him beyond appearance and deception, both. It is obscured by changing views of him that you perceive as his reality . . . The miracle is proof he is not bound by loss or suffering in any form, because it can so easily be changed (T-30.VIII.2:3-4, 6).
Our interaction with one another must have as its foundation our desire to see Christ. Anything shy of that, postpones salvation for all of us.
[i]f a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our “sins.” So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds the change their focus, as we say:
It is not this that I would look upon./I trust my brothers, who are one with me (W-pI.181.6:2-5).
This is hard! We are called to see sinlessness in a world that was made to protect sin and keep it real. And we all know what a pain in the neck our brothers and sisters can be: pompous, selfish, mean-spirited, indifferent, lazy, unenlightened, uninspiring. Condemnation feels like second nature to us.
It is the miracles that teaches us how cruel judgment really is, and how we are never free of its negativity and, finally, how lovingkindness is our true disposition.
When we look for Christ in one another, we are but seeking out the mirror in which our own Christ nature is revealed.
Today I choose to see a world forgiven, in which everyone shows me the face of Christ, and teaches me that what I look upon belongs to me; that nothing is, except Your holy Son (W-pII.269.1:5).
Our willingness to serve one another begins not at the level of form but content. We honor each other best when we seek in every moment the face of Christ: the sign of Love: and the forgiveness of the world.
[y]ou will see the Christ in [your brother] because you let Him come to you. And when He has appeared to you, you will be certain you are like Him, for He is changeless in your brother and in you (T-30.VIII.5:8-9).
This is the work we are asked to do: to see beyond form to the changelessness of Christ, the shared reality in which we are One and without need of any kind. Our willingness to practice this mode of seeing is the greatest gift – the kindest service – we can offer the world.