You Are Needed
Howard H. Irwin, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Everyone in his true nature is
needed and appreciated, Howard H. Irwin, C.S., of
"As we bless others, through our own spiritual understanding, we'll find our own blessing, and prove that we are needed, "Mr. Irwin said.
A member of the Christian Science
Board of Lectureship, Mr. Irwin spoke in John Hancock Hall under the auspices
of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
William Milford Correll, First Reader of The Mother Church, introduced Mr. Irwin, who spoke substantially as follows:
New concept of material universe
These are days of exciting advances in technology and the physical sciences. All these advances are giving us a wholly new concept of the material universe. We can be grateful to the men and women of the natural sciences, whose devotion, courage, and sacrifice have so thrust forward our understanding of the human surroundings in which we live.
But these things challenge us to ensure that our understanding of God is keeping up with the times! We're forced to go beyond a mere perfunctory or even a devout belief in God. We must gain an understanding of God's nature that will satisfy the acute thinker and that will prove itself practical in today's scientific world.
We can prove in our own daily experience that God does exist. And that we exist as His likeness. We express Him and this is the necessity of our being, the purpose of our existence. But many of us haven't always understood this. At one time or another we've felt the longing to be needed. Or, perhaps, we've thought we aren't wanted, that no one is really interested in us and in what we're doing - or really appreciates us. This is a general feeling − we find it expressed wherever we go. It isn't limited to any age or economic group. It's common to humanity. We all want to feel needed, wanted, appreciated.
During the hour we're spending together, we'll consider some spiritual facts that will help reassure us we're needed and wanted. First, we'll examine together the nature of God, and find that man is certainly needed to express God. Next we'll look at how Jesus, though rejected, proved by this expression of infinite divine Love that his fellowmen needed him; and how Mrs. Eddy did the same. Lastly, we'll see how we too can express this divine Love and prove we are needed.
It's through an understanding of our relationship to God that we realize we're always needed, that our longing to be wanted is satisfied. But before we can realize our importance to God and our fellowman, we must understand God's nature. And this understanding, in addition to being as scientific as the most advanced technology, is based squarely on the Bible.
Bible points to practical path
Down through the centuries men have turned to the Bible for an understanding of God and man's relationship to Him. Many attempts have been made to discredit the Bible, but these have only served the useful purpose of helping men to read it more intelligently and perceptively. In this scientific age the teachings of the Bible still point out the practical way of life and progress.
In the first chapter of its first book the Bible says: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Then the great variety of this creation is set forth and reaches its climax in the creation of man Ė man in God's image and likeness. In all of this "God" is the name used to identify the original source, or creator, of all.
As we read on through the Bible, we soon become aware that men's concept of God's nature is constantly being changed and enlarged. As people make progress in applying their understanding of God in daily living, they discover new aspects of God's nature. Then they use new names for God to match their new understanding and new stages of experience. So when we get to the New Testament, we find Jesus calling God "Father" Ė †††"Our Father." The Apostle John clearly understood Jesus' teachings, and the significance of his healings. He was able to give us that highest of all names for God: "Love."
Now, notice, no matter what name is used to describe this original creator, it's the same God that is being worshipped and adored, the same God that men have always turned to for aid and protection. There have been people who doubted God's existence, others who thought Him too great or too busy or too far away to trouble Himself about man, and still others who misunderstood Him in many other ways. But there wasn't ever a time when God's being was interrupted. There's always been the continuity of a growing understanding of Him and His expression of Himself in man. God hasn't stopped being, today or ever.
A young man I know felt very much alone. He felt that nobody really liked him, and as a result he was in a state of endless mental turmoil. As a child, he'd been enrolled for a time in the Christian Science Sunday School. And now he turned to Christian Science to help him with this problem.
Assurances of Godís love
He made an appointment to see a Christian Science practitioner, one of those men and women who have qualified themselves to devote their full time to the healing practice of Christian Science. My young friend was assured by this practitioner of God's love for him, and he was encouraged to study the Bible regularly as he had learned to do in his Sunday School days. This he did, and soon he began to think about his problem in a new way. What he was learning brought a whole new light to the situation.
He had been lonely, afraid, and frustrated because he actually felt cut off from the source of happiness, goodness, joy, and love. He felt cut off from God who is Love. But because God is infinite, Love is infinite. This meant that wherever the young man was there was an expression of loving qualities − affection, compassion, warmth, tenderness, and consideration.
Once he had accepted and established these spiritual facts in his thinking, he had the answer to his basic problem. Then he found his life was changing. Wonderful things opened up: he found happiness, good companionship, and much that showed him that he belonged.
Now this young man didn't just study the Bible in a random way. He studied it as he had been taught to do in Sunday School in the light of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. He studied the Bible spiritually − scientifically.
He found the answer to his problem as he began to understand basic spiritual facts about the nature of God as infinite Love and his own relationship to this Love.
The full scientific implication of the words and works of Christ Jesus was discovered by Mrs. Eddy just over one hundred years ago. This Christ, Science, or Christ, Truth, came to her as a spiritual revelation of the complete nature of God and man. So for 100 years Christian Science has been offering to mankind a scientific concept of God which greatly illumines His nature. It teaches that God is divine Principle and Mind. These names, together with the name Love, help us to understand God more clearly as the original and only source, or cause, of man.
Principle is never absent
What do we mean by saying that God is divine Principle? Well, quite simply, that He's the source and lawgiver of all true being, and this includes you. Some people think this name for God makes Him seem cold and distant. But actually seeing God as Principle destroys the notion that you can be separated from Him. What can be closer than the very source and law of your being?
When we think of God, divine Love, as also divine Principle, we can see how He's constantly taking care of us and governing us. Because He's infinite and universal, He can't be just here and not there. And you can't shut yourself off from him! The prophet Jeremiah said it this way: "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord" (Jer. 24).
Well, then, what about the name "Mind" for God? Wouldn't it be difficult to think of God as divine Love, or Principle, without seeing that He must be intelligent? Without an intelligent, purposeful source, creation would be chaos. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, reminds us: "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matt. 6:8). God must be conscious of what He creates - conscious of every individual identity. Can't we describe this conscious, intelligent, purposeful God by the term "divine Mind"? And this is the God that man expresses through intelligence and love Ė through every Godlike quality.
As you begin to understand God in this way, that is, as divine Principle and Mind, as well as Love, you'll see something else about God that's important: God doesn't cause evil, or suffering of any kind. He destroys it! Principle and intelligence couldn't do otherwise.
We can illustrate this from light and darkness. Let light stand for God, and darkness for evil, suffering, unhappiness. Light is all light. It doesn't hold darkness in itself, but acts to destroy the darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light and is powerless to resist the light. John used this same metaphor when he said: "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). And because God is Principle, in Him is no evil at all, nothing unprincipled.
God, then, doesn't cause or allow any feeling of any individual not being wanted or needed. He destroys it because it's like darkness. It doesn't express the light of God. That is, it's no part of the impartial government of divine Principle, the intelligent activity of divine Mind, or the universal care of divine Love.
Now we've hinted at the important function man fulfills. But as a first step in specifically discussing the need for him, I'd like to tell you of a businessman I know. He went to visit a Christian Science practitioner to see if there could possibly be a solution to his many difficulties. His business activity had dwindled to almost nothing. His financial situation was desperate, and his personal affairs seemed hopelessly tangled. He was convinced he was a failure; nobody wanted or needed him or what he had to give.
The practitioner assured him that there was an answer. And that the answer could be found through understanding the nature of God and his own relationship to God. At first the businessman couldn't see how this would straighten out his business and financial affairs. But he was willing to listen.
For a long time they talked about God as the source, divine Principle or cause, of man, and of man as the effect or expression of God. The practitioner pointed out that for God to be fully expressed, not one individual expression can ever be cast off or rejected. Rather each one is governed, cared for, and guided by this divine Principle, which is also divine Love.
Identity is Godís expression
During the days and weeks that followed, my business friend eagerly studied the Bible and Science and Health. He also had visits with the practitioner. He saw that he did have his place as an expression of God and he couldn't lose it.
Gradually his attitude changed from despair to hope. In a short time he was able to adjust his business and financial activities so that no one suffered damage or loss. And, of course, his personal affairs, too, showed that a spiritual understanding of God and man is scientific and practical. He proved in his own way that he was most certainly needed.
Now let's look more closely at the spiritual truths that helped him. We've made references to God as the source of man and to man as the expression of this source.
Our true identity, then, is God's expression of Himself and it can't be separated from Him. Reflecting divine Principle, we express integrity, dependability, and harmony. Reflecting divine Mind, we express His limitless intelligence and capacities. And reflecting divine Love, we are supported and sustained by this Love wherever we are. Divine Love can't withhold any good from man. Man, in turn, can't have anything unlike God, nor be conscious of lacking any good. We are all important to God, because He is conscious of us, loves us, and is expressing His nature in the true being of each one of us.
The feeling of not being wanted or needed is pretty general to mankind. Probably we all have to meet it sooner or later, and overcome it. Even Christ Jesus had to. And notice, this thing presented itself to him in very much the same way it presents itself to each one of us today. So we can learn a lot from considering how he met it with love.
Jesus brought the Christ message
The fact that he came from Nazareth
did not particularly recommend him. After Jesus had chosen Philip as a
disciple, Philip went to tell his friend Nathanael about Jesus. And what was
Nathanael's reaction? He asked Philip, "Can there any good thing come out
Why did those whom Jesus came to bless want to kill him or have him killed? Because they lacked the spiritual perception needed to understand the Christ, the message of divine Love and Truth. This was what Jesus was bringing to the world, and he knew the value of it. He knew that what the people needed above all else was a right understanding of God and their relationship to Him. He knew that, when they recognized this need, they would want what he was bringing them.
A spiritual understanding of God and man is intensely practical in daily living. It isn't limited by a lack of schooling, and it brings even to a brilliant education a new purposefulness and direction.
Through spiritual understanding Jesus was able to match wits and confound his most clever opponents. He showed that he had learned something which their educational system had failed to give them. At the same time he could illustrate his teaching with stories of everyday life in such a simple way that the humblest of his followers could understand him.
Manís true worth discerned
Some of these pointed to the importance of men expressing love. For instance, in the story of the good Samaritan (Luke -37) it wasn't the men of learning and distinction, the men belonging to the right nation, who saw and seized the opportunity to show their usefulness. No, it was a Samaritan who saw this opportunity and expressed healing compassion for the traveler wounded by thieves. The Jews looked down on the Samaritans, but Jesus showed by this parable that a man's worth and usefulness are to be judged on his own individual expression of Godlike qualities - in particular, love. And we today, can express these qualities more and more effectively as we scientifically understand our nature as divine Love's expression of itself. Then we'll find ourselves useful, needed, and in demand, regardless of our education or social background.
At a lecture one Sunday afternoon I was introduced by a woman whose experience is a fine example of what it means to express Godlike qualities. She was a member of a minority group. Her family was very poor and she had had no schooling. All her life she had had to work very hard. But one day Christian Science was brought to her attention and she began to study it as best she could. Through this study she began to learn about her true selfhood as God's expression. She saw it was her necessity and nature to express among other qualities, intelligence, graciousness, and poise. Through the years that followed, her study and practice of spiritual truths developed these qualities in her and she largely overcame her handicaps and limitations. She introduced me with poise and dignity. And it was obvious she had gained the ability to express herself most lovingly and effectively.
Perhaps with some the trouble isn't lack of formal education, but some family situation. We may feel that our family doesn't understand us, or that our progress and happiness are limited because of our family or lack of family. Jesus' teachings and example show us how we can enlarge our concept of family in a way that will combine security and freedom. Once, when he was teaching, he was told that his mother and other members of his family wanted to speak to him. Then he gave that definition of family which is so helpful today. He said; "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matt. ).
At no time did Jesus ignore the responsibilities of family. Even while he was on the cross he saw that his mother was taken care of. But his understanding of God as Father, as universal Love, enlarged and deepened his sense of family and at the same time broke down a sense of limiting ties. This freed him to express to the full his own God-derived individuality.
Jesus showed us that we can understand and use the spiritual facts about family. As we do, we find our family relationships becoming more loving and harmonious.
I know a woman who asked a Christian Science practitioner for help. Her body was badly swollen with a dropsy-like condition. This woman was rebellious against her mother; for she felt her mother was demanding too much of her, that she was trying to make her feel she wasn't wanted in her own home. The woman and the practitioner talked about the nature of family as defined by Jesus: "whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Each day they tried to understand more clearly the true, spiritual nature of man, that each one is needed for his individual expression of Godlike qualities. Gradually the rebellion was replaced with a sense of love for the mother, and harmony was restored in the home. The woman's body returned to its normal size and function.
The Christ-power is always available to bring freedom from every kind of limitation. There's no mystery about the Christ. The Christ, as understood in Christian Science, is the true idea of God. It reveals to human consciousness what is true of man, true of you and me and our relationship to God. This Christ, Truth, can't be seen or felt by the physical senses, but was made evident to human thought through the life and works of Jesus. Because Jesus so completely expressed the Christ, we speak of him as Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus.
He was faithful and obedient to the Christ, Truth, in his daily living, so he was able to meet with love every challenge that presented itself to him. He showed us the way to apply the Christ, Truth, in our own experience. It was through this same Christ, Truth, that the introducer I referred to overcame the limitations of birth, family, and lack of education. And through this same Christ, Truth, my friend was healed of unhappiness in the home and a swollen body.
Christianity is still dynamic
Mrs. Eddy's discovery shows that Christianity, scientifically understood as the Christ Science or Christ, Truth, is still as challenging and dynamic as it was in Jesus' day. It continues to be a transforming force in human experience.
From earliest childhood the Bible had been a real companion to Mrs. Eddy. She turned to it as one turns to a close and trusted friend. So in middle age, when in great need, it was natural that she should seek help from its pages. What she discerned of the truth of being put to silence the persistent thoughts of hopelessness and failure. With a new sense of strength she rose from her bed, healed.
This experience led her on to the discovery that the God, the divine Love, whom Jesus called Father, is also divine Principle, the source of all existence. She saw that since God is good and is Spirit, man must be wholly good and spiritual. This discovery made such a deep challenge to established religious concepts and traditions that Mrs. Eddy found herself rejected by clergymen, friends, and even by her own family. Abuse and scorn were heaped upon her. But steadfastly she applied the facts of her discovery to her own situation and shared them with anyone who would listen. She constantly expressed divine Love. She healed the sick and the suffering: step by step she proved she was really needed.
Then her opponents began attacking her character. They did not seem to understand Jesus' teaching: "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. ). But those who were healed, freed from lives of sin and suffering, saw the true nature of this Discoverer. They knew that only a person of exemplary and compassionate character could so effectively grasp the presence and power of God, and then labor so unselfishly to make this discovery available and useful to all.
Mrs. Eddy's experience, like that of Jesus, provides an example for all that an understanding of God and man in the light of the Christ, Truth, conquers loneliness and rejection. She demonstrated her statement that "Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 70). Each of us can do likewise by understanding and expressing infinite divine Love.
Universality means equality
We've spoken of God's love as infinite. His love is also universal. Universal means not only everywhere and in every direction, but exactly the same for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Have you ever strolled along a sandy beach and picked up some sand to hold in your hand? Why does it stay in your hand? Because of this thing called gravity. No matter what its size, its shape, its color, or where it came from, each grain of sand presses down on your hand because of the pull of gravity. This pull of gravity is the same for all of the grains of sand. Not more for one and less for another.
There are other fields of gravity in the universe besides that of earth. And it's possible to get out of one field of gravity and into another. But no matter where you are, the love of God is the same for you as for anyone anywhere. Divine Love is universal, the same throughout the whole of time and space. It's universal, but we must experience it individually. You can experience it and express it right where you are. Then you prove you're needed by blessing others, whether they are known to you or not.
Jesus tells us, in different ways, how our spiritual understanding brings blessings to all those around us. He says, for example: "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. ). And then he adds: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven " (5:16). We all are needed right where we are! But to take our part as the light of the world, we must understand and express God as the divine Principle or source of our being. Even as electric light gives light only as it is connected with its source.
Gratitude displaces fear
I'm sure you will be interested in
an experience of a friend of mine. His experience shows how each one of us can
use our understanding of God to protect and bless those around us. One day
during a vacation he and two other men climbed a steep and high mountain in the
Soon they noticed a few birds flying in the strong wind that blew up from the valley. Because the birds were quite far away they looked small. But before long the young men realized that the birds were condors. Condors are very large birds with a wing-spread of ten feet. As the birds approached the peak where the three friends were, they started flying around them in an ever narrowing circle. They were not moving their wings. They were just riding the air currents. And they stared fixedly at the young men, moving around them in complete silence.
Suddenly the fear of being attacked seized the two companions of my young friend. They each grabbed up a rock, and stood back to back. As they watched, their terror increased and they seemed unable to think. Then, quite suddenly, my friend was roused. He was a Christian Scientist and he became alert mentally. He began to remember what he had learned about the presence of God, divine Mind. He became conscious of the fact that the three of them were not in a helpless situation. The divine Mind that governs the universe governs all of its creatures. Even those condors were under God's government. Because of this they could all, birds and men, express and experience only the harmony and good of God's government.
Immediately he felt a sense of wonder at what he was beholding. The calm assurance he had of divine Love's presence and power dispelled the paralyzing fear. The condors flew away just as quietly as they had come. What gratitude filled my friend's thought! Through Christian Science he had glimpsed the fact that God's universe does not contain a single element of danger or discord. This divine idea was a powerful law of protection for him and his friends and the condors! Later he realized that because of his spiritual understanding he had been needed in that place at that time.
Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy gave us helpful examples of how they solved the problem of being rejected and unwanted, of how our own spiritual understanding of God brings blessings to all those around us. The same Truth is available to us today. And because divine Love is universal, we can both experience it and express it wherever we are.
As we gain a scientific understanding of God as universal infinite Love and of man as His expression, we'll see what our own individual relationship to God is. This relationship includes two spiritual facts: that God has a niche that He needs us to fill, and that we certainly need God. As we bless others, through our own spiritual understanding, we'll find our own blessing, and prove that we are needed.
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 10, 1972.]