“The Working of Blessed Love. It were bitterer than death to me if ever I did that which is good, without God.
“This is the nature of the great love which is of God. She does not flow forth in tears, but burns in the great fire of heavenly glory. And thus she spreads to the farthest distances, and yet remains in herself steadfast and still. She rises up into the nearest converse with God, and remains in herself in the lowest measure. She grasps the most, and retains the least. O blessed Love, who are they who know thee? They are those through whom the light of God glows and burns. They dwell not in themselves. The more they are tried, the stronger they grow. Why so? Because the longer they are in conflict, yet abiding in love, the more glorious is God to their souls, and the more do they see themselves to be unworthy and vile. Why so? Because the greater the love, the greater is holy fear; and the fuller the comfort, the stronger the dread of sin. The loving soul does not fear with terror, but she fears nobly. There are two things over which I cannot mourn enough—one is, that God is so forgotten in the world; the other, that His people are so imperfect. Therefore many fall, because the godly have fallen before them. How God speaks to the Soul in Three Places. In the first of these places does the devil also speak, which he cannot do in the other two. The first place is the mind of man, and this stands open not to God only, but to the devil and to all creatures, who enter in as they will, and hold converse with the soul through the mind. The second place in which God speaks, is in the soul itself. And into the soul none can enter but God only. When God speaks to the soul, it is without the aid of the senses. It is in a mighty, strong, and swift communication, in a speech the mind cannot comprehend, unless the mind is so humbled as to take the lowest place amongst created things. The third place where God speaks with the soul is in heaven, when God draws the soul up thither, and brings her into His secret place, where He shows her all His wonders. Of False Love.” ~by Mechthild of Magdeburg
Good Without God
Why would Mechthild say that it would be worse than death to her if she ever did good without God? Because when humans try to do good without God they do what they think is good, but often isn’t. It may be good for them as individuals but is bad for others. Or it may be good for people, but is harmful to the environment. Of course, atheists would argue otherwise, but studies show they are wrong. While they may claim you don’t need to believe in God to be a good and moral person, studies show that while first generation atheists maintain much of the morality of their religious parents, by the third generation much of the morality is either completely lost, or followed only when convenient.
When I took a class in Systems Analysis (what they called Efficiency Expert in the 1950s and 1960s) one of the things the teacher taught us about solving a problem for a person or a business is to make sure the solution does not create problems that are worse than the problems you are trying to fix. The environmentalists back then clearly were not Systems Analysts and did not follow that concept when they advised us to stop using paper bags and switch to plastic. We know now in hindsight that plastic bags are far more environmentally destructive than the paper ones were.
But even a trained systems analyst using pure science can make mistakes. But a mystic like Mechthild with a direct connection to God will not because God always knows the answer, so we should never try to do good without God.
Great Love of God
When you are in love with someone, you want to do things to make that person happy. That is not slavery at all. When you truly know God, you want even more to do what God wants because of your great love for God. That is also not slavery. You do it out of love, not compulsion. And when you do what God wants, things go much better than when you let your own will or ego rule. The ego is useful in the physical world, but should never be allowed to override the Soul. Unfortunately, the Soul is asleep in most of us. It must be awakened if it is to help us. Then our love for God prevents us from trying to do good without God.
The More They Are Tried
Some people wonder why spiritual people often suffer. They think that being spiritual is all about being happy, relaxed, and having no financial problems ever. But that is not the case. It could be if God wanted it so, but he doesn’t for good reason. He wants spiritual people to have difficulties just like everyone else so they will sympathize with others and want to help them and want to overcome these human weaknesses caused by the fall from the realm of spirits. Also, it is simply a fact of human nature that we rarely try to change if everything is going well. It is difficulties that make us want to change and grow. Without them, too many of us are content to just go with the flow and not try to grow at all. It also reminds us that trying to be good without God doesn’t work.