What Determines Your Standpoint?

 

Glenn L. Morning, C.S.B., of San Francisco, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

The lecture was given Sunday, April 24th, under the auspices of First and Second Churches of Christ, Scientist, Des Moines, in the Grand Ball Room of the Hotel Ft. Des Moines, 10th and Walnut Streets. The speaker was introduced by Mrs. Ethel Wogensen, second reader of Second Church.

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

A little girl was being led up a steep hill by her older brother. "This way, it's all rocks and bumps," she complained. "But they're for you to step on to help you go higher," he explained. The little girl saw the rocks and bumps as something to stumble over; but the boy, with the top of the hill in mind, used them to secure his footing as he climbed up. We're often like the little girl when it comes to trials in life - we see them as obstacles rather than as steps to help us go higher.

Most of us have had experiences that seemed rocky and bumpy. Age may appear to have robbed us of our usefulness, to have drained the meaning out of life. Or we may have had difficulty in finding a decent job with any sort of future. Some have given up all hope because of disease or a feeling that nobody cares about them. And still others seem lost in the confusion and wastefulness of harmful habits or even of delinquency and crime.

There's nothing to be ashamed of when we're confronted with temptations and trials. How do we face them? What do we do about them? How do we master them? This is what counts. It's the way we respond that matters.

In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: "Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger" (p. 410). It's helpful to see this. We're too often inclined to pray for victory but may not be so willing to fight the battle that brings it. An athlete doesn't shirk the rigors of training; he knows they tone him up and make him fit. And we don't have to be afraid of any experience that will make us stronger. Trials test our faith in God - in living, active good. They come to us because we're ready to respond to our own higher, spiritual nature; we're ready to overcome some weakness or limitation that has been holding us back. Trials provide us opportunities to overcome these conditions. They compel us to grow in stature and strength.

Here's another pertinent statement from Science and Health: "Trials are proofs of God's care" (p. 66). This doesn't mean God actually sends trials and tribulations. Mathematics doesn't create mathematical problems. We invent the problems, and we solve them by applying the proper rules. By this process we learn more and more about mathematics. In much the same way, it is humanity that creates its own problems of daily living. We solve them most effectively by applying the laws of God; and so we learn more about God and about His government of the universe.

The important thing to realize is this: if a trial does come, an opportunity is present too. In fact, what looks like a trial is often the very opportunity we've been hoping and waiting and maybe even praying for. Our need is, to recognize it for what it is - to see the rocks and bumps as helpful steps upward, not as stumbling blocks. It's our standpoint that is important at these moments. The prophet Isaiah says: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isa. 20:3). Daily prayerful efforts to keep our thought alert to what God is, and what He is doing for us, is the sure way to turn every trial into an opportunity.

Whatever we have to face, Christian Science brings us a message of hope and salvation. It brings us an understanding of God as infinite Love. Mrs. Eddy writes: "The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares" (Science and Health, p. 574). Scientific Christianity shows us how to avail ourselves of God's boundless goodness and power. It brings practical proof that human ordeals and extremities turn into blessings before Love's omnipotence.

And it reveals, too, that God, who is divine Love, is also divine Principle. In answer to the question, "What is the Principle of Christian Science?" Mrs. Eddy writes: "It is God, the Supreme Being, infinite and immortal Mind, the Soul of man and the universe. It is our Father which is in heaven. It is substance, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love, - these are the deific Principle" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1). Such Bible stories as Daniel in the lions' den and the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace tell us of trials changed into opportunities; in each situation God, divine Love, was proved to be the governing Principle. Placing ourselves under the direction of divine Principle, which is also divine Love, we find good to be at every moment the decisive force in our lives.

Of course, we don't go out to look for trouble. But if it comes, we don't have to run away. We can face it, and we can turn it into a blessing. The question is, how? And the answer is: by appraising the situation scientifically and then acting accordingly. We make the correct appraisal in three steps. First, we gain a Christianly scientific view of God and man in their true nature and identity. Second, we make a Christianly scientific appraisal of any phase of evil that seems to be denying the supremacy of God, good, in our lives. And third, in any situation we apply this Christianly scientific understanding so as to make a clear distinction between the true elements of the divine Mind and the falsities of what Paul calls the carnal mind. This way we evaluate our trials properly and are ready and able to turn them into opportunities. Each rock or bump in our path is seen as offering a step up toward better things.

So let us now examine together each of these three steps.

 

Our True Identity

First, let us get a correct view of God and man.

A little girl once brought her neighbor a bouquet of dandelions. As she handed them over, she whispered so that the dandelions shouldn't hear: "They don't know they're weeds. They think they're flowers." Mortal man makes the same mistake. He believes his own wrong sense of himself to be really man; but it isn't. Man is spiritual. As described at the very beginning of the Bible, man is the image and likeness of God, Spirit. It is important for us to know ourselves spiritually in this way, as God's likeness. Doing this enables us to meet trials from the standpoint of spiritually scientific appraisal. Then we find God's law of limitless good operating in our lives.

It's easy to see that your image reflected in a mirror must be your likeness in every respect. So man, the image, or reflection, of Spirit, is the exact likeness of Spirit. He can't be physical or material; he must be and is wholly spiritual. The Psalmist put it this way: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness" (Ps. 17:15).

Each of us will be satisfied when he wakens to the fact that his real identity is spiritual - the likeness of God, good, the image of infinite Spirit. The man of God's creating is not the material being each of us seems to be; on the contrary, he is the spiritual and perfect reflection of incorporeal Spirit. The man of God's creating doesn't have to work up toward perfection; he is already at the point of perfection and always has been. God, Spirit, created man perfect, and God's creation can never be impaired. Every one of us here possesses a perfect spiritual selfhood which is his only actual identity.

I don't mean that mortals are perfect. Mortality is based on the belief that life and intelligence are material. It presents the exact opposite of the spiritual universe and claims the material to be the real universe. In the measure men accept a material standpoint, a material appraisal, they believe themselves to be material mortals. Then they find themselves subject to sin, suffering, even death. But a mortal isn't man. He represents only an incorrect concept of man, a concept based on matter instead of Spirit.

Mrs. Eddy writes of this deluded sense of man: "Mortals have the sum of being to work out, and up, to its spiritual standpoint" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 52). Humanity represents the state of thought in which the mortal view of man is yielding to the spiritual view. Spiritually, man is and always has been perfect. But the human being has to prove man's perfection. Humanity still believes in varying degree that matter is substance and power and cause. The trials we encounter along the way are opportunities for us to rise above limited material standpoints and to identify ourselves correctly as God's spiritual image and likeness.

Every incorrect belief replaced by truth, every fear overcome by recognition of the presence of divine Love, increases our understanding of true identity and enables us to view life more consistently from the spiritual standpoint.

 

Spiritual Identity Demonstrated

A great change comes into our lives as we learn to appraise identity correctly and respond to every trial aright. Mrs. Eddy states: "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (Science and Health, p. 131). Christian Science shows us that matter is no substitute for Spirit, or Mind - the omnipotent, or all-powerful, the omniscient, or all-knowing, the omnipresent, or ever-present, the omniactive. We need to meet every ordeal as the great Bible characters did - as an opportunity to demonstrate the power of God, Spirit, and man's relationship to Him. Then we shall learn to lean less and less on material means and methods, and our lives will conform more and more to spiritual reality. Every trial will bring us a blessing by which we gain a higher stature of spiritual understanding and demonstration.

During World War II, I became involved in an accident. I was a student of Christian Science, but as military regulations required, I was taken to a hospital. An X-ray revealed a dislocated shoulder. After it was set, I was released and, for a time, had no further difficulty. But about two years later I experienced a recurrence of the trouble, and for

several months I suffered repeatedly with this annoying and painful condition. I wasn't subject to military regulations any more, and I wanted to work the problem out in Christian Science. But, referring to fractures and dislocations, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: "Until the advancing age admits the efficacy and supremacy of Mind, it is better for Christian Scientists to leave surgery and the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to the fingers of a surgeon, while the mental healer confines himself chiefly to mental reconstruction and to the prevention of inflammation" (p. 401). It seemed right for me to follow this guidance. So every time the trouble recurred, I had the shoulder set by a doctor.

The last two doctors who did this for me told me I could never hope to have free use of my arm without an operation to wire it in place. But I had had many proofs of God's healing power during the years I had studied Christian Science. So I was sure that sometime, somehow, God would heal me of this painful condition.

One Wednesday evening I was preparing to attend the testimony meeting at the Christian Science church of which I was a member. In closing the garage doors, I lost my balance and my shoulder slipped out of place again. This time I was confident I would experience my healing. I found it easier to support my arm if my body was bent forward; so in this position I sat down and prayed and listened for guidance. I realized that it was normal and right for me to be in church that evening; and since God supported every right activity, I was sure He would make it possible for me to be there. Then I thought: "This truth also supports the harmonious functioning of my body. In reality, I am composed of right ideas, and the divine Mind holds each one of them intact and in its right place." I felt inspired by looking at myself from this spiritual standpoint, and then there came to me a vigorous mental command: "Stand upright upon your understanding!" I got to my feet, but was still bent over. The command came again: "Stand upright!"

I obeyed and started to stand erect. Then an unseen force molded my arm back into place with such ease and gentleness as I had never before experienced. The arm was set without even a suggestion of pain. I was in church that evening all right, and, during the period for the giving of testimonies and remarks on Christian Science, I was the first on my feet to express gratitude for Love's healing power. This healing has been permanent. There has been no recurrence of the trouble in twenty years.

Now I don't want to give the wrong impression. Immediately following the passage I referred to a few minutes ago, we read: "Christian Science is always the most skilful surgeon, but surgery is the branch of its healing which will be last acknowledged. However, it is but just to say that the author has already in her possession well authenticated records of the cure, by herself and her students through mental surgery alone, of broken bones, dislocated joints, and spinal vertebrae" (p. 402).

In this regard, may I tell you the experience of another Christian Scientist, a friend of mine. He had a fall and broke a bone in his foot. He called for the assistance of a Christian Science practitioner, and told him he wanted to work this out without having a doctor set the bone. The practitioner assured him that he would do everything he could to help him achieve the healing through spiritual means alone.

Both patient and practitioner prayed to establish the facts of man's spiritual identity as they had learned these in Christian Science. The pain, inflammation, and swelling subsided. Then, at the end of a week, the insurance carrier for my friend's place of employment insisted that an X-ray be taken, and this was done. The doctor for the insurance company called my friend's employer to report the results: the X-ray, he said, showed evidence of a broken bone that had been set perfectly. He added there was nothing for him to do, but advised the patient against bearing his full weight on the foot for a reasonable length of time. At the end of six weeks, my friend helped a relative repair a fence on a ranch, and this required miles of walking. There were no ill effects, nor have there been in the many years since.

This experience was an important forward step in my friend's life. The trial provided an opportunity for him to demonstrate his God-given dominion over pain, swelling, inflammation - conditions that often accompany broken bones. It also enabled him to gain a clear realization and true appraisal of his spiritual identity.

 

Christ Jesus Showed God's Nature

If we're to enjoy the advantages of identifying ourselves as God's image and likeness, we must have the fullest possible knowledge of what God is. That is one reason why we need to grasp the meaning of Christ Jesus' career. No one has so thoroughly understood the nature of God as he did. He brought to all men the possibility of knowing God and, on the basis of this knowledge, of identifying themselves spiritually.

Jesus proved his understanding of God's power by his mighty works. He proved his understanding of divine Love by turning every trial into an opportunity. Throughout his days on earth he was immeasurably empowered by the Christ, the true idea of God, the spiritual expression of God's nature and presence. He was motivated by spiritual power in all he said and did. Expressing it, he stilled the tempest, walked on the wave, fed the multitudes, healed the sick, restored the sinning, and even raised the dead. Every adverse human circumstance provided him an opportunity to demonstrate the omnipotence of Spirit.

Jesus demonstrated a greater measure of spirituality, or Christliness, than any man who ever lived; and so the divine title, Christ, is his alone. In the dual nature of Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ, we see that Jesus was human; but Christ, his divine selfhood, was and is spiritual and eternal.

In lesser degree the patriarchs and prophets of old had perceived the Messiah, or Christ, which enabled them to glimpse and demonstrate the divine nature. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews refers to the eternal presence of the Christ. He writes: "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; . . . Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (Heb. 11:24, 26). The human Jesus was not, of course, present in Moses' day, but the eternal Christ, the spiritual idea of Truth, was there. The Christ impelled Moses to forsake material wealth and serve God, Spirit. Just so the Christ impelled Samuel and Elijah and Elisha.

It was not the personal Jesus that impelled and empowered these men. It was the Christ, Truth. And today this Christ, Truth, is still present to speak to the human consciousness, to rid it of fear, evil, sin, disease, and death. It leads into ways of sinlessness, health, and life harmonious and everlasting. The Christ is a living, practical force that enables men to rise superior to all that would obstruct their well-being. It is through the Christ, Truth, that we come to understand the true nature of God.

It is possible, then, for men to know God today, and proportionately as they know Him, they can know themselves as His reflection. Christ Jesus said: "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father" (John 10:15). The Christ enabled Jesus to know God, his Father. This Christ, the spiritual idea of sonship, now revealed as the Christ Science or Christian Science can do the same for you and me. We, too, can come to know the Father. As we enlarge and spiritualize our concept of God, we inevitably gain an improved concept of man; for man is God's likeness.

Jesus' understanding of his true being as God's spiritual Son stirred human thought to change its base of appraisal from physicality to Spirit and Spirit's idea, man. Working from this standpoint, he could in every situation reveal the true - that which is good - and dispel the untrue - that which denies the all-presence of good. The Christ Science operates in the same way today.

So we complete our first upward step; we have gained the true, or Christly, view of God and of man's spiritual and only real identity.

 

The Nature of Evil Exposed

Our second upward step is in scientific appraisal of the nature of evil, of mortality, and of matter.

Mrs. Eddy states: "The real Christ was unconscious of matter, of sin, disease, and death, and was conscious only of God, of good, of eternal Life, and harmony." And she brings out a very important point as she continues, "Hence the human Jesus had a resort to his higher self and relation to the Father, and there could find rest from unreal trials in the conscious reality and royalty of his being, - holding the mortal as unreal, and the divine as real" (No and Yes, p. 36).

Every individual has a "resort to his higher self and relation to the Father," - to the "conscious reality and royalty" of man's true being. By turning to the divine consciousness, or infinite Mind, instead of to matter, he can see every trial he encounters along the way as unreal. The understanding of his "higher self," or spiritual identity, as the image or reflection of Spirit, changes these trials into opportunities; it brings solution of his problems and healing of his ills.

In courts of law an important part of many trials is the refutation of any false evidence that may be introduced. To turn our trials into blessings, we need to know how to distinguish clearly between the true and false - between that which is God-created and that which God did not create. The Bible tells us that everything God made is good, and it also states: "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). It follows that, because God created everything and made it good, evil, the opposite of good, must be without actual entity or identity. Christian Science reduces evil to a deceptive mental state, a suppositional absence of good. This agrees with the Master's description of devil, the personification of evil. He called the devil a liar.

It was God's purpose that His nature and essence be revealed to mankind. It was also necessary for His divine purpose that men should understand the nature of evil and how it claims to operate. One of the unique elements in Christian Science is its total refutation of evil's claims and evidence. Students of this Science are familiar with the term "animal magnetism" in defining evil. This term did not originate with Mrs. Eddy. It was in general use in her day pertaining to mental influence and control. The term "animal magnetism" aptly describes evil. It tells us that evil is animal in nature and that it claims to exercise a magnetic influence or attraction. It shows evil to be a delusion of material sense and thought, acting aggressively upon the human consciousness through mesmeric suggestion. Mrs. Eddy's writings deny the claim of evil to be a real entity; they also show how evil's false claims to influence and attract are nullified by the only real action and attraction, those of the divine Mind, God.

 

 

The Statement of Mrs. Eddy's Discovery

One of the strongest evidences of Mrs. Eddy's spiritual stature is the way she faced up to evil, exposed its nothingness, and revealed the presence of good right where evil claimed to be active. Each obstacle she overcame contributed additional strength and understanding with which she went forward to meet confidently whatever lay ahead. Her entire life illustrated the fact that adversities can be steps upward to new opportunities.

Even though she was a frail child, she was a devoted Bible scholar and precocious in her studies. Her older brother, Albert, for whom she had deep affection, helped her in her studies of English, Latin, Hebrew, and Greek; and she once remarked to him that some day she would write a book. Young womanhood for Mrs. Eddy was full of frustrations, trials, and hardships; if she later denied the reality of evil, it was not for lack of human

experience of it. But her faith in God always prevailed. She proved every adversity to be an opportunity to establish more firmly her childhood conviction of God's unfailing goodness. One experience - an accident which threatened her very life - was perhaps her greatest opportunity. It led her into the discovery of Christian Science.

This healing occurred in February of 1866 when she was in her forty-fifth year. By the end of that year she had gained a scientific conviction that there is but one causative force, the divine Mind, and that every effect is a mental phenomenon. During a period of seclusion from social contacts she searched the Scriptures to learn the exact Science of how she had been healed. Step by step evil was exposed; and the knowledge of God she had been seeking was revealed to her waiting thought.

Mrs. Eddy at once began to put her discovery to comprehensive test. Although her healing work aroused interest, it also incited open resistance from doctors and clergy. But wherever Mrs. Eddy found receptivity, she healed the sick,

Her first students, many of whom were also successful healers, were taught from her early manuscripts. But it was becoming clear to her that there needed to be a written statement of her discovery. The final result was "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It has now gone through hundreds of editions and printings. Study of this book in conjunction with the Bible and application of its teachings have brought to millions of people spiritual awakening. Reformation and enrichment of character, physical healing, and prosperity follow. It has opened their eyes to the reality of good and completely exposed the unreality of evil. It is a key to the Scriptures and is the Christian Science textbook.

As such, it teaches us to accept as real only that which is substantial and enduring - qualities of spiritual good emanating from the Mind that is God, qualities such as wisdom, integrity, purity, wholeness or holiness. It also teaches us how to detect, and reject as false, the suggestions of evil and matter that would claim there are intelligence and power apart from the omnipotent divine Mind.

In Science and Health we read: "Allness is the measure of the infinite, and nothing less can express God" (p. 336). Only on the basis of this divine allness can we correctly appraise evil, as complete and total unreality. And only on the basis of this appraisal can we replace unreal trials with divine opportunities.

 

Correct Appraisal Needed

And now we come to our third upward step. So far we have considered the nature of God and man as revealed in Christian Science, infinite good and its perfect expression. We have also discussed the nature of evil, as exposed in Christian Science. But if we are to turn our trials into opportunities, we need in every human situation to be able to separate the good from the evil, the true from the false. John the Baptist prophesied the Messiah, the Christ, would come with fan in hand separating the chaff from the wheat. In Science and Health "Fan" is defined as "Separator of fable from fact; that which gives action to thought" (p. 586). The fan of spiritual understanding does just this. It separates the real fact, that which is, from the unreal fable, that which seems to be, but is not. And it gives action to this separation; it makes it operative in our lives.

In making a correct appraisal our first need is to pray. Prayer, as understood in Christian Science, is not pleading with God as one would with a human being, asking Him for things, or telling Him what to do. But it helps us to distinguish truth from falsity, fact from illusion; it sharpens our ability to evaluate experiences.

Human beings include the capacity to be aware of opposites. We are conscious of both mind and matter, good and evil, truth and error, health and sickness, wealth and poverty, success and failure, intelligence and ignorance. Humanly, we include spiritual sense, the faculty of discerning Spirit and spiritual facts, as well as material sense, the sense that seems to take cognizance of matter, Spirit's opposite. Prayer silences material sense and develops spiritual sense.

Material sense, basing its conclusions upon the limited evidence before it, deceives itself and also those who rely upon it. Material sense at one time said the earth was flat, and those who believed it limited themselves by this concept of a nonexistent flat earth. It was their belief that limited them, not a material condition. Material sense says that health is a condition of matter and that life is subject to death, but it is only belief that seems to make this so. The effect of belief may be shown by a thank-you letter from a European family who had received a gift-package from America. A newspaper account reads in part: "Please send me more of those pills. We didn't know what they were until our cousin who studies English read the name for us. We gave them all to Uncle Paul who suffers from rheumatism. He feels better now and says it's the best medicine he ever took. If you don't remember the name of the pills, they're called 'Life Savers.' "

Discernment of good, through the exercise of spiritual sense, brings the holy influence of God, Spirit, into human living. The more we cultivate spiritual sense, the more good our lives express. Through it we discern the true identity of ourselves and others to be spiritual and good, the exact image of perfect Spirit. In this way we render both mind and body receptive to the healing influence of Spirit. This influence is both protective and corrective - preventive as well as curative. It operates to forestall, as well as to expose and destroy, all that is unlike good. The Psalmist sang, "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble" (Ps. 32:7).

The true estimate of Life is reached by realizing that Life is Spirit, wholly above and apart from matter and independent of matter for its individual expression. It is through spiritual sense, the ability to see above and beyond matter, that one discerns spiritual truth. And doing this is prayer. The prayer of spiritual understanding teaches us to look into the realm of spiritual sense where health and harmony reign.

This prayer includes the silent acknowledgment of God as Spirit, or Mind, and identifies man as His spiritual likeness. It understandingly affirms the omnipotence of Mind, Spirit, and Spirit's ability to offset every discordant physical condition by restoring health and harmony. True prayer is correct appraisal through spiritualization of thought; and spiritualized thought is made manifest humanly in health and well-being.

 

Right Appraisal Exemplified

In praying we express an earnest desire to glorify God, to show the full wonder of the divine nature as Life and Spirit and boundless good. An outstanding example of a sore trial becoming, through right appraisal, an opportunity to glorify God is told in John's Gospel. A message reached Jesus that his friend Lazarus was sick. Then, in John's words, '"When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:4). This might have seemed cryptic. How could such a condition redound to "the glory of God"? Those who loved Lazarus may well have wondered the more, when the sickness ended in death.

But Jesus knew that man is spiritual, not material, and that he lives, moves, and has his being in Spirit, not matter. He knew that the real man can neither be sick nor die. These conditions can't touch Life, God, nor His likeness, man. Those dear to Jesus were cast into deep grief, but he saw an opportunity to glorify God and to bless his friends. He would demonstrate for them and for all future time the presence and power of Life right where the evidence before material sense declared life was absent.

Others were looking with material eyes and were blinded to "the glory of God." Jesus, looking through the eyes of spiritual discernment, made the right appraisal. He saw an opportunity to reveal "the glory of God," and "the Son of God" was indeed "glorified thereby." Not even the evidence of death robbed Jesus of an opportunity to glorify his Father. He restored Lazarus to life. No matter how severe a trial may be, it is possible to demonstrate the ministering presence of divine Life and Love.

During the period of adjustment following World War II, a man I know proved this. He was out of work, but had prayed earnestly for divine guidance and to realize that he was safe in God's love. One afternoon fear possessed him, and he decided to call a Christian Science practitioner. He got no answer to his telephone call, and he then realized he must make a greater effort to gain his peace directly from divine Love.

There was so much at stake. His small savings were depleted, payments were to be made on his home, and his family had to be provided for. There seemed no way to turn. But he recalled the words of the Psalm, "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill" (Ps. 3:4). In his extremity, he cried aloud, "Father, what am I to do?" Immediately he had his answer. Clearly, as if spoken aloud, came the thought, "The least you can do is to be grateful, you know this is not the truth about you."

The man admitted he was grateful for this. He realized that before he had known of Christian Science he had never questioned the evidence of the physical senses. But now he knew how to distinguish spiritually between the true and the false. He remembered the Master's instruction to his disciples: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). He had learned to differentiate between his spiritual identity and the delusion that he was a material mortal. He knew that the apparent situation didn't represent the spiritual fact about him.

He was grateful to have seen this much, now he realized he mustn't allow fear to overshadow his gratitude. During the rest of the afternoon, he kept reminding himself how grateful he was that Christian Science had enabled him to make the right distinction between true and false.

As his gratitude increased, his fear lessened, and by evening, he was no longer afraid. The very next morning he was offered satisfying employment. Of all whom he had contacted, his offer came from the one person he had considered least likely to supply work in his particular field. After this, he continued to advance and eventually found himself engaged in the full-time public practice of Christian Science.

This experience provided him with an opportunity for the Christ, Truth, to speak to him. It lifted his thought to consider the spiritual sense of his being, to recognize that the limited sense of himself didn't truly represent him. It taught him to be grateful for the fact that anything restricting normal right action does not represent the truth about man, God's image. It proved to be a step up toward higher activity. One of our hymns puts it this way;

 

"Our gratitude is riches,

Complaint is poverty,

Our trials bloom in blessings,

They test our constancy."

(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 249)

 

Opportunities Are Always Present

As we begin to think from the spiritual standpoint, we become increasingly grateful to know that only good is really true about us and about everyone else. The Christ, Truth, is ever present to assure us of this: If anything isn't good, it isn't true.

Approached in the light of Christian Science, every trial overcome by demonstrated spiritual power strengthens us. Trials provide proofs that divine Love is ever present to care for us. They lift us higher in spiritual understanding. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149, 150).

The trials we encounter along the way are really opportunities to learn these lessons of divine Love. We can prove that we're ready to respond still more fully to our spiritual identity as the image and likeness of God. It makes no difference where we may be in our experience; through spiritual sense we can distinguish between our spiritual individuality and the belief that we are material. We can learn to separate that which is God-created from that which is not. With the fan of spiritual understanding we can appraise our experiences as Christ Jesus appraised his - according to spiritual facts.

Our spirituality - our Christliness, our true spiritual identity - is always at hand. We can begin right now to claim it and demonstrate it. Reasoning from the standpoint of spiritual existence, we gain an understanding of God and learn to recognize our true selfhood as His likeness. Dependence on matter and material means is replaced by absolute reliance upon the omnipotence of divine Love. Then every trial is seen to be an opportunity, and every opportunity can lead to a victory.

 

1965 Glenn L. Morning

All rights reserved

 

[Published in The West Des Moines (Iowa) Express, April 28, 1966.]

 

 

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