The Imperative of Love
By David Bland
Many of us have seen the brightly colored string or beaded bracelet around a friend's wrist, decorated with the letters "WWJD." The phrase these letters capture--"What would Jesus do?"--was coined by a Sunday School teacher as a way to help remind her students that all of life must be tested against the example of the historical Jesus.
Just what was that example? It was of the man who showed compassion for a woman, outcast because of her state of uncleanness caused by a twelve-year-long issue of blood. It was of the man who saw in little children the real embodiment of the divine--the ultimate meaning of the Kingdom of God. It was of the man who went beyond efforts to entrap him so he could be an instrument for a man to regain his sight. But the epitome of the example this Jesus of Nazareth embodies is summarized in what he gave all of us as the Great Commandment, "that you love one another."
In that golden nugget At the Feet of the Master, we are told, "Of all the qualifications, Love is the most important,for if it is strong enough in a man, it forces him to acquire all the rest, and all the rest without it would never be sufficient." In every faith tradition there are comparable calls for us to actualize that one quality that can give us the wings to soar with the eagles rather than to be immersed in the morass of pettiness, selfishness, and inhumanness. However, as our histories so graphically portray, we have chosen many things over the joy and freedom that can be ours when we open ourselves to love. Today's religious writers and speakers urge us audience to reclaim the "high-ground," to ask the WWJD question, or its moral equivalent within the other faith traditions such as Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim.
Through the years, the Theosophical Society has provided an unencumbered arena in which to explore life's questions with believers of the world's religions. In the workshop recently held to explore a greater interface between the Theosophical Society and the Christian tradition, it was recognized that some Christian faith tenets can indeed inhibit dialogue and create what may appear as in surmountable barriers to open exploration. As the participants in that workshop, members of the Society from various Christian backgrounds, worked through these issues, we identified our dilemma. Each of us recognized that dogmas, if accepted at face value, will continue to be a chasm, but we also realized that there are principles that can bridge that chasm.
If one accepts the imperative of love, the interpretations that would divide can be placed to the side, and an atmosphere of love and understanding created. Once we have walked around each other's house, or shared fellowship, and experienced the presence of the Christ in one another, we will ratchet down our defenses and really begin to know the answer to the WWJD question. The apostle Paul wrote to a church to which he had given some of his most creative ministry:
Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men's sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance. Love will never come to an end. . . . In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love. [I Cor. 13.4-13, New English Bible)
There can and must be an expanded and enlightened exploration of how Theosophy complements and enhances Christianity's message of love to all mankind. The recent workshop has given all of us who participated in it an opportunity to bring into focus this dialogue, incorporating the principles that unite rather than divide. We have made a beginning. Let us love one another.
David Bland has degrees from Wake Forest University, North Carolina State University, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is CEO fo rMcGregor Industries, an architectural steel fabrication and installation company. A member of the Theosophical Society since 1970, he is committed to increasing dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Theosophy.