Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is 'Love Your Neighbor as Yourself' Practical Advice? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is 'Love Your Neighbor as Yourself' Practical Advice? ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Even before they moved in, there was tension. First they insisted my husband and I amend the rules of our two-unit condominium to let them operate a business, and were angry when we would not. Then there were difficulties relating to condo fees and insurance. But worst of all were the explosions of noise that made the furniture rattle and woke me up at night.

Although I managed to keep the relationship cordial, this particular morning I was as rattled as the furniture. I'd had noisy neighbors before, but none who woke me up with noise at 6 o'clock in the morning.

I had tried discussing the banging with them. Perhaps they were renovating their apartment? But they weren't, and wouldn't discuss it further. This particular morning, the banging was so loud I could scarcely think; I just sat and seethed.

I did not want to turn this into a battle, even if I did have right and the condo rules on my side. I wanted quiet, yes, but I wanted more than quiet. I wanted peace, and a good relationship with my neighbors.

To get that, I knew, I needed a higher law than real estate law; I needed God's law. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science church, described this law of God as "the law of omnipotent harmony and good" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 17). I wondered, what did God's law say about bad neighbors?

Immediately, the answer popped into mind: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39, New International Version). Sadly, this was not practical advice, I thought. These were not lovable neighbors. I was again ready to dig out the condo rules when it occurred to me that, even if I couldn't love them, there was one thing I could do. Instead of rehearsing what bad neighbors they were - which I did with every crash - I could remember that we are all children of the one heavenly Father. I could open my heart to see the goodness that He expresses in each of us. That's what I could love - His goodness - in my neighbors, as in myself.

So that's what I did. …

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