Justice Under Gods Care
Barbara Dix Henderson, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
To obtain our human rights, we
must claim our divine rights, Barbara Dix Henderson told an audience in
The lecturer explained that God is impartial in bestowing good. "He gives all His children equal rights to the infinite qualities of good, equal access to the 'fruit of the spirit' which the Apostle Paul defines as 'love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.' "
A member of The Christian Science
Board of Lectureship, Mrs. Henderson spoke in The Mother Church, The First
Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Mrs. Henderson received her
"Justice Under God's
Care" was the title of her lecture. She was introduced by Mrs. Bonnie
'It's not fair!'
It's a strange thing how early in life a child seems to claim his rights and want justice. What family doesn't go through the process of having to count out an exact number of strawberries, or cherries, to each child in order to avoid an argument or hear the complaint, "Ooh! His cake's bigger than mine!"
Then come those famous words which I guarantee you'll hear in almost every home or school throughout the world. "It's not fair!"
Sadly enough this protest, if left unsatisfied, is the breeding ground for trouble and leads to quarrels, resentments, envy, self-pity, and quite a lot of misery.
Yet is this innate longing in a child for fair play and the protection of his rights really a bad thing? It's usually inadequacy in dealing with it that breeds trouble. Children give up because they think nobody cares!
Nowadays, enlightened educators and parents have caught on to the fact that sorting out injustices at an early age is worth much time and patience. But a young teacher admitted to me there were still many cases where this wasn't enough. She spoke of the little deprived or backward ones who seemed to have so much less ability than the others. "It's so unfair," she said. She wished there was something more she could do.
I assured her there was another authority she could call on God's authority. That cry, "It's not fair!" indicated a deep-down desire for justice. It was an appeal for impartial government. I remembered the words of the Apostle James who said, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James ). Surely such a God could hardly be expected to give more strawberries, or cherries, to one child, and withhold them from another. Surely He gives all His children equal rights!
Equal rights to what? To the infinite qualities of good divinely bestowed on all of us! Every one of us has equal rights, equal access to "the fruit of the Spirit" which Paul defines as "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," and he adds, "against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23).
No human circumstance can deprive anyone of the joy of expressing spiritual qualities. You don't need the physical senses to recognize them. You can't see, hear, taste, touch, or smell them. They are timeless and ageless. You don't have to measure them. They're nobody's personal possession, but we all have the free use of them, and we can all feel and enjoy their effect. Through these spiritual qualities we recognize the impartial care of divine Love for all of us. And so a right human pattern of care and justice begins to emerge in our daily affairs.
Now to go back to the young teacher. She agreed that, since her care and love for her pupils contained an element of helplessness or limitation, something more was needed. "Well, what can I do about it?" she asked.
I suggested she turn to the Bible to find out more about God as Spirit, as the spiritual source of those perfect gifts. Then she'd soon discover the children were not helpless victims of injustice, but were all equally loved children of God.
"I see," she said, "you mean I have to get a better view of them?" "Of course," I told her. "Once you approach them with a sense of confidence that you know something special and good about each of them, they'll feel this authority and respond to it maybe in differing degrees but they will respond. But first be sure you realize all those perfect gifts are yours to express that your love and care are vital elements of the loving, caring law of God. Then this law will bring expansion to human abilities both for you and for those little ones."
She went off determined to try this out. "It's such a relief," she said, "to know there is something one can do about it." And what's more, she did use this knowledge to great advantage in the classroom.
Now I hope to show you how the qualities of care and love, raised to their highest spiritual level, express the activity of divine justice.
On divine authority
You see, when these qualities are used without recognition of their source, they lose their full effectiveness. Something of the divine hue comes through them, but on their own they're still a stage removed from the all-embracing, healing spirit of divine Love. This Love alone can take away the pressures and injustices that weigh on us all. When we allow the all-enveloping beneficence of divine Love to wipe out the anxious personal sense of responsibility, then as Isaiah foresaw, "The government shall be upon his shoulder" (Isa. 9:6) not on a limited human person but on divine authority.
One of the greatest injustices mortal thinking would impose on us is ill-health. How unfair it seems that some of us are healthy, and others are condemned to illness or suffering. But how could the impartial law of Love suddenly stop its natural function of spiritual impartation, its flow of compassionate healing care? This loving, caring law, recognized and acknowledged, gives health equally, to all who claim it.
I saw this spiritual law govern a situation in a junior school where I was working. A little girl was absent for a while. When I telephoned the mother, she told me tearfully the child was very ill; she could eat nothing, and was wasting away. The doctors had diagnosed a growth in her stomach; they could offer no further treatment.
I wrote a simple letter to my young pupil, just reminding her of the Lord's Prayer which we said at school each morning. I asked her to think about the line, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. ). I told her to notice all the loving things people were doing for her, and to remember that every good and grateful thought she held was part of her daily food. The mother called me two days later to say how much my letter had helped her and the little girl who was faithfully doing the things I had asked so much so that she was feeling far less sorry for herself.
Abnormal growth healed
On hearing that I was a Christian Scientist the mother asked me to pray for her and her daughter in "the Christian Science way" (as she put it). I agreed to do so and gave the mother some Christian Science literature to study at home. We worked together on "the fruit of the Spirit" particularly, love, joy, goodness, meekness. We saw that these qualities were constituents of health, available to all.
I asked her to see there was only one true form of growth, and that was growth in grace. This was supported by two statements from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Here the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science writes, "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds." And, "Simply asking that we may love God will never make us love Him; but the longing to be better and holier, expressed in daily watchfulness and in striving to assimilate more of the divine character, will mould and fashion us anew, until we awake in His likeness" (p. 4).
The mother promised they'd try to practice this, and although previously the doctors had held out little hope of the child's recovery, three weeks later they could find no trace of the growth the condition had completely cleared, and the child was eating normally. She was back in school the following term. One way or another, once we begin to let the law of Love govern our attitudes, then it governs our bodies as well, and prayer is found to be effective.
Real care is prayer, and real prayer is our link with the law of Love. It is our link with spiritual power, and spiritual power corrects injustice. Many sincere people pray without success. Why? Because their prayers are upside down. They start by thinking of themselves as unhappy material mortals, miles away from a distant God. Their very premise is wrong. Mary Baker Eddy found this out when her thought woke up to the divine fact that once the allness of God, Spirit, was comprehended, then prayer could begin only from this starting-point. And this is praying in "the Christian Science way," as the young mother called it.
Mrs. Eddy also used the word "Mind" for God because she saw so clearly the spiritually mental nature of all true cause and effect. She exposed matter as neither cause nor effect. It is a distorted view of substance, a non-intelligent limited concept projected by a counterfeit mind, which tries to defraud us by masquerading as a rival to the one and only real Mind. She emphasizes these facts in her many inspired definitions of God and man, based on her study of the Bible.
Higher concept of man
In the book of Genesis we learn, "God created man in his own image" (). Following the thought expressed here, Mrs. Eddy writes, "Man is idea, the image, of Love." She also says, "He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas" (Science and Health, p. 475). She saw that the supreme Mind could only form its likeness in ideas; so she raised the concept of man from that of a harassed mortal to the realm of idea. And what an idea! Not just a material earthbound concept, but actually what the all-loving Mind knows about him.
So you see, we're not made of destructible matter evolving a material mind with its delusions of ill-health and injustice. We're actually made of spiritual substance and spiritual qualities which are permanent and indestructible. So we are equally permanent and indestructible. Real prayer is a continuing affirmation of these facts a continuing affirmation of the allness and onliness of divine spiritual Love. This prayer in itself is a denial of anything unlike or opposed to that Love.
Wonderful things began to happen to Mrs. Eddy after she learned to pray this way. Her own mental and physical agonies began to decrease, and her health was restored. She was able to heal others on a scale hardly thought of since the time of the primitive Christians. She taught others how to pray and heal on the same basis. She wrote the Christian Science textbook which is the key to the Scriptures, and therefore the key to healing. And she founded the Christian Science movement to support this great work. This is what scientific prayer, starting from infinite Mind, did for Mrs. Eddy and what it can do for us.
Christ Jesus, who gave us the Lord's Prayer and was the greatest healer of all time, said, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge" (John ). His spiritual senses were always in contact with Mind, the Father-intelligence. He wasn't consulting the spurious testimony of the physical senses. He went straight for the divine facts about man, and so he judged people's needs from this viewpoint. This linked his sense of care and love to the great Giver of these qualities, which resulted in the highest form of care in the world healing. So you see, when we recognize that the gentle propulsion of God's infinite care for each one of us is the true impulse behind our care and concern, then His law comes into action. This animates our whole being to act in accord with this divine law. When we understand this, then the same healing results can be obtained today as they were in Jesus' time.
Jesus manifested divinity
Notice here what Mrs. Eddy says about Jesus: "The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus" (Science and Health, p. 25). In Christian Science we learn that Jesus was the human man, the needed evidence of individual existence, whereas the Christ is the divine ideal, the complete expression of spiritual sonship.
Jesus represented the Christ, that infinity of right spiritual ideas, which is the true substance of God's man. He was the mediator between Spirit and flesh. He proved the divine coincidence. During his years of ministry, Jesus never lost sight of this mission. He knew his identity was totally spiritual and that the fleshly element was only the shadow of his true selfhood. So though he ran the full course of a human life cycle, even the crucifixion never separated him from his consciousness of eternal Life and Love. This was the Christ, the permanent substance of his true nature. This is the permanent substance of our true nature too.
All those perfect gifts which Jesus manifested in healing and teaching were his evidence of spiritual care which never fails. It was this care of the Christ which proved to the little girl I told you about that God's law is fair to all and didn't limit her to disability or deprivation. We can all experience this care as we learn to practice more of the qualities of Spirit.
We need a little more determination to claim and use the spiritual qualities which are at our disposal, and which in truth we represent. This will help us to forge better adjusted relationships. An interesting example of this can be found in the Bible in the book of Esther.
A victory for justice
We like to think that equal rights
for women or "the Women's Movement" is a modern trend. But let's look
back to the year 500 B.C. Here we read of King Ahasuerus who was obviously a
mighty potentate and an authoritarian ruler. He ruled from
The King then married Esther, who carried on the campaign, but by quite different methods. To begin with, she rallied the Jewish nation and the ladies of her court to three days of prayer and fasting. This was her recognition of divine authority. Then she approached the King. She tactfully and wisely maintained a good relationship with her husband. Through love and a gentle influence for good, she gained almost equal status with him. Together they exposed and banished Haman, whose political intrigues with his own ring of spies had stirred up constant trouble. Together they restored justice and integrity to the kingdom. This is a marvelously exciting story, which shows that where disobedience and incitement failed, love and tactful wisdom won. It also shows that intrigue and manipulation are no match for spiritual qualities!
So justice simply can't be outlined materially; its base must be spiritual. Man is spiritual, not animal. Any form of genuine liberation need never injure anyone else. Everyone can have spiritual dominion over domination even if it's the desire to dominate others.
The will to dominate others is one of those animal tendencies which originate in material thinking and are often called in the Bible "the flesh." But they were never part of our original selfhood. They are just barnacle attachments. Surely a spiritual creator could never make animality, possessiveness, or revenge! A librarian in a Christian Science Reading Room understood this very well. A masked man suddenly burst into the Reading Room and threatened her at gunpoint saying, "Come on, hand over the cash, or I'll shoot you." The librarian calmly answered, "Oh, no young man. You don't want to shoot anyone because God loves you, and He made you to be like Him." This unexpected reply caused him to hesitate. He lowered his gun while she quietly telephoned a Christian Science practitioner in the building to come and help the young man. The practitioner first gave him a good meal and then took him to his office and heard his story. The result was the boy changed his whole way of life and began to study Christian Science.
Maintaining her own atmosphere of calm and spiritual poise, that librarian never let fear enter her consciousness. She saw that violence and hatred were never part of that young man. An atmosphere which was electric with mental crosscurrents of fear and animosity came under a totally new influence, the one Mind which governs all its ideas with its impartial law of Love.
Listening to divine Mind
This supreme Mind knows all, and all that it knows is good! How much better to find out what It knows than to suppose something else! We have the right to decide what forms our thoughts. Either we listen to divine Mind and receive thoughts which are God-promoted or we take notice of brain-concepts. Brain-concepts are matter-projections which, somewhat like a computer, can only evolve answers at the level of what is fed into it. And the brain is fed exclusively by the five physical senses. It would try to make us believe we are slaves of the body, servants of sin, victims of injustice, puppets in a game of astrology . . . what you will we can cook up anything we fancy and believe in it! Isn't this idolatry? Could God, Mind, make His ideas prone to such nonsense?
Can matter evolve intelligence? Surely only Mind can produce true intelligence, and this will control matter until matter is seen to be nothing more than a shadowy suggestion falling briefly across consciousness. Divine Mind is all the time imparting the facts of harmonious being. Its spiritual rhythm is felt in daily living when humanity and care are seen as a sign that God is at work in human thought. The more human thought yields itself to the unerring directorship of the supreme Mind intelligent Love the more humanity is raised to its highest level as the agent of divinity. At this summit of spiritual perception, we lose the sense of matter, with all its limitations and inequities, and are only sensitive to Spirit. So spiritual sense comes into action, and we bring moral and spiritual law into our daily deeds. Isn't this the best way to prove the reality of God's just and impartial government?
All the really great reformers have been motivated by love and care, and have had some form of justice and freedom as their goal. Mary Baker Eddy can take her place among the great reformers of the world. She had the courage to raise her voice in protest against slavery to injustice of every kind.
She applauded the fine work done in the abolition of the slave system and the establishment of human rights. She encouraged the idea of reforming and raising standards of law and education. Justice was a subject which very much occupied her thought. In a letter to the Association for International Conciliation she writes, "Individuals, as nations, unite harmoniously on the basis of justice, and this is accomplished when self is lost in Love or God's own plan of salvation." And she continues, "Human law is right only as it patterns the divine" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p, 283).
Enslaved by beliefs
Some time later she sent a
generous donation to the monument fund for two philanthropists, and with it this
message: "Love lived in a court or cot is God exemplified, governing
governments, industries, human rights, liberty, life." She adds, "The
great Galilean Prophet was, is, the reformer of reformers" (Ibid, pp.
287-288). She saw that, although Jesus lived in a time when
Mrs. Eddy told her students, "Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" ("Message for 190I," p. 34), and she certainly followed him to such a degree that she brought reformation of mind and body to thousands of seekers.
It's this same Mind which forms the love in our hearts which shows us that it's only when we want and work for the same degree of good in others as we want for ourselves that we too are reformed and at one with Love.
There can be no division between Love and Love's idea. Divine Love is the focal point of uplifted thought where divisions between men, or nations, or ideals do not exist. When international, inter-religious, or labor relationships are examined on this basis, the walls which we think are so real are found to be self-imposed.
If there are no walls, there can be no exclusions. Measurement, competition, and comparison all arouse the fear that someone, somewhere, will be left out or unloved. Our real basic need is always for more of divine Love Love which cares for and includes each one of us! So let's all learn to care more care for others more even to care for ourselves more nurture the good in ourselves encourage the humor which can so often break through the drama of human tension! Turn that tired expression "I couldn't care less" into "I need to care more." To care so much that we know that only the healing touch of Christly Love in our hearts can bring justice and mercy into the lives of others.
Self-interest gives way
This is our real recipe for peace and justice. We need to have such a desire in our hearts for God's healing love to win the day in every situation that the competitive element must drop out. Both parties in any dispute can then see a merger of ideas instead of a barricade of obstinacies. When justice and love are seen to be inseparable and self-interest gives way to the common good, then divine justice begins to show its own evidence.
I had to live through a stormy episode in my life some years ago when I witnessed all the wiles and manipulations of human law as unable to resist the quiet advance of spiritual authority. As this spiritual authority gained momentum, it exposed the false evidence and blessed all parties.
I was suddenly approached by an old friend of my father's who begged me to come to the meetings of a small but respected society of which I was a life member. Its aim was to urge the use of mediation as a means of averting wars. It had done a fine pioneering job in this field long before the United Nations existed. This friend said the most outrageous charges were being made by a new chairman about my late father and his colleagues, who were former officers of the society. Not only were the new directors trying to stop an honorarium due to my mother, but they were trying to divert a large legacy left to the society into a political channel which had no bearing on its work. They seemed determined to prove that the former officers were either incompetent or dishonest. Their legal case depended upon invalidating past decisions.
That suspicion should be cast upon a group of men of such undoubted integrity was an injustice that couldn't be allowed to pass. So month after month I attended most disruptive meetings where a set of young law students had accepted the chairman's suggestions as a basis for some good legal exercise. No one seemed to be occupied with the original aims of the society it was just a legal scrap. I was advised the law of libel didn't apply when the accused was deceased, and that I had no recourse to human law. This was just as well as I had to seek God's justice.
I asked a Christian Science practitioner to support my efforts with prayer. These words from one of Mrs. Eddy's hymns were constantly with me: "Dear Christ, forever here and near . . ." ("Poems," p. 29). I hardly ever spoke, but I held and held that thought. At first it was only claimed protectively for myself. Then one day I began to reason differently. Casting my thought over the human scenes I'd witnessed during the year, I saw what appeared to be a declining institution, quarreling over every issue, behaving in the last way that could be called peace-loving. The whole institution seemed to be a veritable tool of injustice. I saw I had mentally wiped it out as hopeless and useless.
War intelligently ended
But now I began to take a new look
at it as the fine idea it originally was. I remembered that its founder, Sir
William Randal Cremer, had journeyed over the
For my part I had to overcome my resentment and indignation against the chairman. I had to make room for love to have unhindered entry to my thoughts. I saw that if the Christ spirit were present, it wouldn't be just for me alone. I thought of how Jesus stilled the storm, how the Christly love conveyed by his presence calmed not only his disciples' fears but his whole environment.
This work done, I approached the next meeting with a lighter heart. There was the usual angry scene. Two members of the old regime hotly standing up for their rights against a battery of newcomers. Suddenly I heard one of the newcomers, a young Nigerian schoolmaster, whom I didn't know personally, say, "I must protest that the chairman is trying to tinge the atmosphere of the meeting with innuendos not based on fact." There were a few, "Hear, hear's." Turning to me he continued, "Haven't you some evidence to prove your father's statements were true?" I didn't think I had, but next day I came across a long-forgotten folder which I recognized as my father's. In it were letters appertaining to his work, and notes of appreciation from all the American state officials with whom he had been in contact. At the next meeting these were passed round.
The whole atmosphere changed. There were no longer "two sides." There were various expressions of shame and regret and respect and relief. There was, in fact, a great calm. I shall never forget that moment. I was filled with gratitude that the Christ-presence was felt and recognized by all present. At the next meeting the honorarium was sent to my mother with love and deep appreciation, and the chairman, quite voluntarily, offered a public apology and asked for it to be entered in the records. At that moment that society was certainly performing its allotted task of mediation, and accepting Christ as the great mediator.
This was a real healing, because the chairman didn't at this stage try to justify himself, but showed some discomfort followed by genuine humility and this was the true nature of the man coming to the surface through the Christ-power.
Our true spiritual status
We shall really be doing our part in upholding a higher sense of justice and human rights when we concede to men and women their true spiritual status.
As we let spirituality shine through our humanity, consciousness-raising is brought to its highest level, the consciousness of Love as our divine right.
When you and I really feel the presence of the Christ, something happens. Others begin to feel it too. This awakens their own God-impelled aspirations and brings collective harmony.
What a vital thing this collective harmony is in a society where almost every major decision has to betaken by a committee or governing body. This is where prayer comes in. It changes the mental climate. This new climate of thought allows the unfailing influence of divine care to guide and unify our human objectives.
It's because people are so anxious to be cared for that they push and push for what they think are their rights. But how many of us really claim the rights we have? If we claim our spiritual rights with all the vehemence and determination that we give to lesser rights, we shall find our freedom from every form of tyranny. We are not slaves, or victims. We are free free now, to be what we are, to know what we are the full expression of Mind's far-seeing intelligence. So let Mind define our laws, our lives, our ideals! Then we shall reap the reward of divine justice the fruit of the Spirit.
Where the Christ-spirit reigns, there are no "haves" and "have-nots" no over pampered or underprivileged children of the just Father, who says to each one of His children, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31).
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 14, 1976.]