Abou Ben Adhem (in the well-known poem of that name) informed the angel that he loved his fellowmen. The next night the angel returned to him with a list of those whom god had blessed. And Abou Ben Adhem found that his name was at the top of the list. Indeed, love of man is love of God and service to man is service to God. It was charlies Eliot Norton, American educator and humanitarian, who said that, “They serve god well serve His creatures,”
There is also a story of the golden plate which was God’s gift. It was to be granted to the one who loved his fellowmen best. It was finally given to an ordinary poor farmer who had come to the temple to make his offerings an had wiped the tears of a blind and helpless beggar and consoled him before he came to the temple.
God is invisible to us. But all around us we find His presence in all His creations. The noblest and the best of god’s creations is indeed man. If we wish to worship God, the best way to do so would be to devote our lives to the service of the poor, the downtrodden and the destitute. Everyone in this world recognizes this kind of noble work and acknowledges its greatness. Politicians, statesmen, military generals are often held in contempt and scorn. But noble souls like Gandhiji and Mother Teresa earn universal reverence and regard.
That is why Tagore asks a devotee to come out of the seclusion of a temple, or chanting holy songs and come down on the dusty road where the worker is toiling hard. There he would find God. Gandhiji, too, asked us to worship ‘daridra Narayan’, which means the poor and the downtrodden whom he considered to be the very incarnation of God. Thus, all great men have emphasized and upheld the truth that service to man is really service to God.
Rich men who build temples, churches, or mosques and spend lavishly on religious ceremonies are unwilling to help a beggar, an orphan, a widow or a poor deserving student. Often their riches have been accumulated through the exploitation of their helpless employees. They foolishly imagine that by spending large sums of money in this way they will be able to please god. Little do they know that God dwells in the hearts of his fellowmen. Only by serving their fellowmen will they be rendering real service to God.