Religion—every religion—comprises two sets of values: ethical (justice, love, charity…) and social (marriage, divorce, dietary laws…). The former never change, the latter often do. The spiritual life of a true Bahá’í is characterized by the same virtues that distinguish a true follower in any of the other great Faiths.
Jesus said that loving God and loving people are the greatest commandments. In the Bahá’í Faith, love receives the same honor and retains the same status. The following are a few quotations from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding love:
In the world of humanity the greatest king and sovereign is love.162 Love is the greatest law in this vast universe of God!163
The essence of Bahá’u’lláh’s Teaching is all-embracing love, for love includeth every excellence of humankind. It causeth every soul to go forward. It bestoweth on each one…immortal life.164
Love is heaven’s kindly light…the living link that uniteth God with man…Love is the most great law…Love is the spirit of life…165
Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.166
All the sacred Scriptures teach and honor the same noble deeds, the same divine attributes. The laws of love, honesty, and charity never change; they stand as immortal as the stars of heaven.
This brief quotation from the Torah, spoken to humankind some 3,500 years ago, is an immortal prescription for a full and abundant spiritual life:
What then, O Israel, does the Lord your God ask of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to conform to all his ways, to love him and to serve him with all your heart and soul. _Deuteronomy 10:12
The spiritual laws serve as essential links to the harmonious functioning of both the individual and society—guiding us towards harmony with our own nature. Destitute of virtues, deprived of noble acts of love, compassion, concern, charity, and sanctity, humans turn into the basest of beings, society into a state of absolute apathy and despair, the world into an abode of darkness.
Yet as fixed as the spiritual laws are, they do evolve, constantly seeking new modes or ways of expression. Every new Redeemer invests the spiritual heritage of the world with a new and ever-advancing Spirit—one attuned to an ever-evolving age.