Rise and Shine
James E. Pike of Wilmette, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
There is a price to be paid for the gift of God's love and care, James E. Pike, C.S., of Wilmette, Ill., told an audience in Boston Monday evening.
"It's true that God's love and care," he said, "is a free gift in the sense that His work is done. But the acceptance of this gift comes by a cultivated spiritual understanding which we earn as we learn to rise and shine."
Mr. Pike, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. "Rise and Shine" was the title of his lecture.
Mrs. Cathryn S. Keith, C.S., of Boston, introduced the lecturer. Mr. Pike spoke substantially as follows:
A young friend of mine — a lad of five years, came in from play one day, covered with dirt. His mother, preparing him for his bath, was exasperated, and began to chastise the lad for his appearance. In the midst of her scolding, she was stopped short when he piped up and said: "But mother, I'm a little boy, and much closer to the earth than you are!"
All things being relative, his comment can serve to stir our own thinking. How close to the earth are we? And if too close, if getting too smudged from it, can we rise from it? And if we can rise, then what is our ultimate goal? What heights can we attain?
In a world that often seems menacing, where ecologists say we will die of our own pollution, where some theologians say God is dead, where political leaders tell us that limited war is a way of life, where rebellious voices tell us that violence is as natural to man as breathing, where age-old moral and spiritual laws are being flouted, and where over all the miasma of drugs and more drugs hangs heavy, perhaps we can take profit from attempting to answer questions of this nature.
In one sense the Christian world is founded on a concept of rising from the earth. The resurrection and eventual ascension of the founder of Christianity evidences this. His own words are: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth" (John 12:32).
A voice from the dim remoteness of the Old Testament, yet a voice as brilliant today as the day it first spoke to men, says this: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1).
It is obvious there is a need to rise; not only an ancient call but today's need urges us to do so. Why not spend this hour in seeing, first of all, how earthbound we seem to be; secondly, how we can rise, and what we need to rise from; and thirdly, what is the goal we'll gain, what does it mean to shine?
For so long man has been considered an animal, with all that that implies of passions, appetites, hunger and wiles. True, somewhere within him is supposed to be a soul, or a mind, or a consciousness that makes him better than the beasts of the field — but not much more so.
Consequently the animal aspect is in the ascendancy, and men are educated to believe you have to die before the soul or spiritual consciousness of man can be revealed. He rises up, spends his threescore years and ten in battling the matter world only to wither and die, hopefully then gaining release for his soul. "Born to lose" says the old refrain.
The three biggest plagues that confront mortal man in this road to oblivion are sin, disease, and death. While each is being dealt with constantly to the best of human thinking, still sin abounds, diseases increase, and death shows no diminishment.
To this grim scene of human existence comes the offer of a solution. Christian Science invites the world to listen to its offering, because this Science is dedicated to healing the ills of mankind. Idealistic, but practical, this Science of the Christ teaches that if one can be educated into something — then one can be educated out of it.
What then is this gift, this spiritual education that Christian Science offers to humankind? Briefly, it's an awakening from material ways of dealing with that unholy trio, sin, disease, and death, to a profound and effective approach through the prayer of spiritual understanding.
Then we find a rising from sin, rising to the point where — this may surprise you — one can see the total unreality of it. A little Sunday School girl saw this quickly. She said, in breathless wonder: "Why if God didn't made it, how could I be it? "
She glimpsed some deep spiritual facts — that God is the source of all that is real and true. That He is totally good, and everything He made must be exactly like Him. Therefore sin could never stem from God. On this basis, Christian Science labels sin unreal — as you might label an illusion or counterfeit untrue and unreal.
To the orthodox Christian world, sin had its start with Adam, and from that point on everyone has been inflicted with it. Humans as a result are regarded as fallen mortals — given little chance or hope for present salvation. Christian Science views with deep compassion, and offers its healing system, to the millions of people who believe they are born in sin, live in sin, and have to die in sin.
But then appeared Jesus with a new dispensation. Paul, the great legal student of Christian doctrine, saw a different law in the teachings of Jesus. Paul saw that the greatest sin was believing that because Adam sinned everyone else had to suffer for it! Who is to say that you and I have to suffer for what Adam did? Paul gave man a choice. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor. 15:22). He offered a new order in Christian theology, that promised one of the brightest risings from the cruel belief that man is in bondage to sin.
It was on this note that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, perceived the basic fallacy of the universal belief in sin. And in a startling revelation to the theological world she declared sin to be unreal, the opposite of God; that sin has no entity because God is the only Being, the absolute source and center of all that is true and real.
Here, right here then, by perceiving within one's own individual consciousness, the Allness of God, could the very belief in sin itself be destroyed. And sin must be destroyed — not ignored! And the only way it ever will be destroyed is by the individual refusing to believe in it; hence, not embodying it, or indulging it.
This process of learning to disbelieve sin is purely mental. It takes place in human consciousness, as the individual little by little learns to elevate, yea to rise, in his thinking. Under the constant cultivation of learning to know and feel the all presence of spiritual good, the actual presence of God, thought is educated to rise out of the bondage of sin to the inspired understanding and proof of spiritual freedom.
In another equally startling revelation which is all part of the educational system of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy perceived that the belief of life in matter itself had to be challenged and destroyed. She saw that this belief produces sin at every step. Thus her statement, underlying the Science of Christianity, is: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is Infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health p.468).
This is from the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book clearly states that while the healing of the sick is highly important, the prime mission of this Science is to destroy the sins of the world. Thus, as one individually destroys the belief of life in matter, he simultaneously destroys both the sin and the belief of a mortal tempted to sin.
Now how does one do this? Christian Science teaches that it's done by the Christ, Truth. And what is the Christ, Truth? Why it's simply the right idea of God and man. It comes — that is, this right idea — comes to lift the thought of humanity to understand the fact of God's allness, the nothingness of matter, and the resulting unreality of sin. It's always a right idea — a truth — that heals any situation needing healing.
This Christ, Truth, this right idea is revealed by God to receptive human consciousness through inspiration, revelation, and healing, bringing about the re-education of thought. Material beliefs and mortal concepts are replaced through Truth's, i.e. the Christ's, ever-present action. The individual awakens to the realization that his true identity has never been material but spiritual. He feels "made alive," as Paul declared. He recognizes the Christ in his thinking, i.e., the right idea of his spiritual, true being.
It was the Christ that made Jesus alive — that is, made him spiritually vibrant and vital. This revelation of true identity animated and infused the man Jesus so completely he became known as Jesus Christ. It was this Christ that revealed his true spiritual being — and does the same for you and me.
But this re-education process we're discussing does not afford one an overnight trip to the kingdom of Spirit, God. Rather, it's a process of daily dedication and regeneration in which we rise to an ever higher and holier state of thinking.
Speaking of this higher hope, Mrs. Eddy writes: "The human mind will sometime rise above all material and physical sense, exchanging it for spiritual perception, and exchanging human concepts for the divine consciousness. Then man will recognize his God-given dominion and being," (Science and Health, p. 531). And, you might say, is able to rise out of sin.
Then, Christian Science invites us to take a different look at sickness and disease. Just when these plagues entered the human scene is not known. From the earliest rumblings of history — at the latest recording perhaps 600,000 years ago, when it is believed primitive societies came into existence and animal man began to be humanized, down to the 6,000 years of recorded history now at our disposal, this force called sickness and disease has been present. And it is obvious now that in the present world more and more emphasis is being placed on the theory and practice of material medicine. This is seen in the ever enlarging number and types of diseases being discovered and treated.
But here we must say that Christian Science has come as a friend to mankind. Contrary to critical opinion voiced against this spiritual Science, it is not here to oppose medical science or its practitioners. Indeed we respect all Christian methods for alleviating the sufferings of mankind. We recognize the right of free moral agency, in which each individual may select and practice whatever method of healing he chooses.
However, Christian Science is dedicated to that method which Jesus taught and practiced, and sees this practice as entirely apart from material methods. And it's as demonstrable today as when Jesus lived among us and practiced this wholly spiritual method of healing.
Mary Baker Eddy was inspired by her own healing from long-standing illnesses. It's perhaps well known that for many weary years she looked everywhere for health. But not so well known is her search into homeopathy — which treats disease through remedies applied in minute doses. She tells of some fascinating experiments and healings in Science and Health.
But the great conclusion this led to was the purely mental nature of all being. Through deep prayer and revelation, she set forth a therapeutic system of treating disease. From proof after proof, she finally concluded that we must turn from disease in the body to find it in the human mind, and to find the cure for it in the divine Mind, or God.
Here then is a rationale for the healing of disease: to find out what it is not, rather than to explore deeper and deeper into matter modes to find out what it is! To find out what God, pure Mind, knows about disease is to find out that it is un-knowable to God. Generations ago man was told that God is of "purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Hab. 1:13). And again the Bible speaks of God "who healeth all thy diseases" (Ps. 103:3). So why then would that not apply to the most iniquitous forms of disease — in all their names and natures?
In rising out of disease this Science of Christianity invites the inquirer to try something new — in addition to "knowing" why not try "un-knowing"! Most of human knowledge is comprised in knowing facts and information — but who can say we can't develop a skill in un-knowing? I simply mean by this that we can free our human thinking of false beliefs and the effects of false education! For instance, it's clear that God, pure Mind, does not know disease. So as the expression of that Mind, we can refuse thoughts of disease and replace them with spiritual truths about man.
To know any truth is equal to unknowing a lie about it. We can come to know divine Truth, so vividly, so vibrantly, that we'll never again know sin, disease or death! "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32), said Christ Jesus. The effect of knowing the truth is to destroy or un-know the error that holds us in bondage.
Finally, Christian Science invites us to consider an entirely different understanding of death. Out of the black culture of America comes an interesting question. It's as significant and poignant today as it was the first time it was so fervently sung. We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who ask this question from a loved spiritual: "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?"
In one sense of the word we all were there — all of humanity has been there! In fact, humanity is there. For one of the tragedies in our educational systems has been the glorification of the death of Jesus, rather than the fact that he actually arose from death.
Christian Science shows humanity that the great message of Jesus lay in his rising from death — rather than in his submitting to it. Indeed, his apparent submission occurred only after, in his own thought, he had already mastered the fear, or belief, that he could experience death!
In one of the last recorded scenes of Jesus' experience — that which has become famous as The Last Supper, he intuitively told his disciples that one of them would betray him. Peter, James, John, each in turn asked him a burning question: "Is it I?"
Now this is a question the Science of Christianity places before humanity today, and asks each individual to answer it in his own thought. "Is it I" who am betraying the wonderful basic teachings of progressive Christianity? "Is it I" who believes that after some threescore years and ten I'll fold my tent and slip into immortality — or else wind everything up in one moment of defeat called death? "Is it I" who am not cultivating the art of spiritual healing? "Is it I" who am failing to direct my thought — and hence my life — into the active pursuit of Spirit, God?
Paul, a significant thinker on the subject of death, startles us with his declaration: "I die daily"! (I Cor. 15:31). May not this mean that he destroyed physical-based mortal thinking and daily kept at work cultivating an immortal basis of spiritual thinking and living? It's in the degree that physically mortal based thinking has been challenged and progressively destroyed, that the true idea of man as God's own expression of Himself appears. This understanding establishes the eternal unity of God and man, and destroys every fiber of matter-based thinking that would hide the kingdom of heaven at hand!
Now the Science of Christianity — this unique educational system called Christian Science — was itself the product of a "rising," a lifting up from the world of matter. Humanity had hints of its appearance; chroniclers of Jesus' time promised the appearance of another Comforter that would follow the Master Christian's time on earth.
In the fullness of time, true to the Bible prophecy of the leaven and meal, there arose one whose talents, groomed through the fires of adversity, gave fit preparation for the role. A movement of this scope, an idea with the revolutionary impulsion of this Science, had to have a Leader.
A Leader, not in the sense of a Messiah, one who would only give them the word. Not a Leader in the sense of someone to personally worship, either. But rather a Leader who tells hard truths, who gives a stern path to follow, who calls upon one's highest qualities - not their base instincts. A Leader who tells us not what we want to hear — but what we ought to hear. And then by example and proof or demonstration lives it in dally life.
Such a true Leader is Mary Baker Eddy — she who cut a path for humanity to walk directly against the established modes of science, theology and medicine. Not belligerently or stubbornly — but practically, humbly, and scientifically, praying their way upward and outward, rising into newness of life and being through individual regeneration.
Handicapped by physical frailty from childhood, she struggled against semi-invalidism into her middle years. Heroically she let her physical struggles forge her thought into deep paths of spiritual mindedness. Frail of body, but strong in spirit, at 45 years of age she viewed her own life in a rising, ascending path. Here a true Leader, who through her own self-instruction and patient proof in this Science of Christianity, led the way for each of us. And showed us how we could each rise — and shine.
This power of rising, inherent in each of us, can accomplish great things in life, once an individual determines within himself to rise and shine.
This was illustrated in the experience of someone well known to me who at 16 years of age had already been embroiled in an illicit and highly immoral affair with a woman 10 years his senior. A rebellious student in school, he fought his family at home, indulged himself in hypocritical acts of various natures, and in general headed on a downhill course to self-destruction.
He picked up momentum en route, became a wild and willful college student, and by the end of his sophomore year was on the failing list.
Caught up in a strange net of circumstances, he found himself left alone — stranded in society, and was drafted into the military service. This only added to his already embittered, rebellious thought, and within a few months he was in deep trouble with the military authorities.
At about this time he met a young lady who's a student of Christian Science. Seeing his great need, and spiritually sensitive as to how to meet it, she directed his thought to the Christian Science textbook. An Army chaplain, along the way, saw the intrinsic worth of this lad, and little by little the journey upward began.
Not suddenly did change occur — one doesn't take an overnight trip to Spirit! But gradually regeneration and reformation began. First, there came a willingness to change — a genuine wanting to be better. Humility was the first step in this rising and was followed in the natural sequence of spiritual growth by steadily improved thinking and living.
Bad habits began to fall away, new friends and interests arose, opportunities for valuable service appeared. An outstanding military record was won, college degrees were earned, and eventually a profitable business career was insured.
Today you should see this man. Happily married, a sense of joy that knows no limits, of genuine value to his community and family, this man's life illustrates what Daniel said in the Bible: "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament" (Dan. 12:3).
So now that we've seen from what we can rise, where do we go? To what do we ascend? We cannot permit ourselves to hang suspended like some lone star in a pathless sky. Again we sense the fear of mortality — its concern that we might rise too high — become too spiritual. After all, the accusation made of Jesus was that he considered himself equal with God. Is this asking too much of us? If so, we might take comfort in Robert Browning's famed line: "The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life."
Then for a great life — why not have a high aim? You know, a talk I had one day helped me see that goal more clearly.
A space engineer, sitting in my office, told me that a major problem confronting the scientist in outer space is total darkness — a darkness so intense it seems impenetrable.
"Why how could that be?" I asked. "The sun shines out there as much as it does in here, doesn't It?"
"Well, of course it does," he answered. "But out there it's no good — it's of no value."
"What do you mean," I said, "Why's that?"
"Why because in outer space there's nothing to reflect it. A few hundred miles above the earth's surface there's nothing to reflect the sun. All the light, the warmth, the heat, the rays are there, but since there is nothing to reflect It," the engineer said, "it's valueless — nonexistent, really, because it's without expression."
"Nothing to reflect it," I thought to myself. And then there began to dawn within me an ever deeper vision of what Christian Science offers humanity. This Science teaches that man lives as the very reflection of God Himself. That if there was ever a moment in which spiritual man failed to reflect — or express God — then there would be a moment in which God was unexpressed — not reflected. That's to say that since man is the very expression of God's being, then the sole purpose of man's being is to express God! Not as a reflector but as reflection itself.
What a goal! What a challenge for individual living. Here is an opportunity to rise in one's thought, and hence in one's living, to where one can actually understand his true nature as the very expression of God! And what a responsibility!
Think of it! It's this sense of responsibility that no longer allows one to sit around and wait for God, good, to hand out His blessings. Here one learns that divine good is not a gratuity — but rather is this good an earned commodity. There are no "pennies from heaven" in this kind of relationship, no benevolent indulgence - but only the joy and rewards of hard work as one learns to know and to prove his own true being.
In a symbolically significant Fourth of July talk before a great many members of her church in 1897, Mrs. Eddy spoke of this sense of earning one's spiritual freedom. She speaks of Christian Science as being the "pearl of great price" that Jesus taught, where if a man finds it he sells all he has and buys it. And then she says: "Buyeth it! Note the scope of that saying, even that Christianity is not merely a gift, as St. Paul avers, but is bought with a price, a great price; and what man knoweth as did our Master its value, and the price he paid for it?" (Miscellaneous Writings 253:1-5.)
It's true that God's love and care is a free gift in the sense that His work is done. But the acceptance of this gift comes by a cultivated spiritual understanding which we earn as we learn to rise and shine.
The proving of our unity with God is rising on our part to a state of true manhood and womanhood. For this rising requires manliness and womanliness in the highest sense of those words — in order to free and cultivate the spiritual sensitivity that assures an individual he is one with God.
This manliness and womanliness is far from the bullishness and the heated selfishness of human will and animal courage. This true sense of spiritual being leads to a life of initiative rather than inertia, of right practice instead of mal-practice, of spontaneity and joy instead of apathy and indifference, of wholeness and integrity rather than disintegration and breakdown. It's a life dedicated to Love, God. A life that, regardless of the inclination to hell-bent passions and furies of lustful living, one still yields his thought to the disciplines of divine Principle which is Love, and Love which is Principle.
Until one begins to know himself as the full reflection of God, until one begins to accept his responsibility for being and doing, he's not living this Science in its fullness. To assume this responsibility is to arrive at a state of self-determination. It's to have spiritual dominion based on true self-knowledge and self-control under God, Principle.
To let our lives trend spiritually upward — yes to rise on the scale of being is to learn to shine, to reflect God as himself. Our sole moral and spiritual obligation is to do this. This meeting of our responsibility is the measure of Christ in each of us.
In this responsibility to God, we come naturally and spontaneously to shine as the very reflection, yes, the image of Love. This, let it be noted, was the healing method employed by Jesus. This skilled man so well assumed his responsibility that he openly went about the country saying such things as "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), and ". . . the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10), and, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). And through his words he earned the title of Christ.
In his healing ministry he frequently demanded that the patient assume some responsibility, to do something. "... Rise up and walk?" (Luke 5:23), ". . . be not afraid" (Matt. 14:27), ". . . Stretch forth thine hand. . . ." (Matt. 12:13); - all indicating a rousing, a stirring up, yes, a rising up from within the consciousness of the individual.
Jesus never gave the impression he was injecting something from outside into the thought of his patient. No thought transference. Rather he awakened their thought to see that within them was the very kingdom of heaven. He unleashed hidden powers they were blind to, and brought them out in the open where they could use them. He broke the mesmerism and self-hypnosis by letting them learn to feel and know their own Mind, God.
When receptive students came to him, he gave them the feeling, not that they had to lift themselves by their own bootstraps, but that the power of God which they reflected could do the raising up. He didn't make the mistake of the shallow moralist who's always saying that in the final instance a man has to change himself.
Jesus didn't offer a one-dimensional plan of salvation based on morality alone. Rather his morality, strengthened and augmented by his spiritual mindedness, put a man into a two-dimensional realm of being. The moral and the spiritual wherein one could be changed, reborn, by the eternal spiritual laws of God.
When he said "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48) — I feel he literally meant "Ye be perfect — so prove it!" He did so. His rising above all mortal life remains today as a perpetual challenge to all of mankind to rise to their own perfection as God's full expression.
The Biblical record states that when Jesus came near the time when he would confront the cross, he took his disciples and retreated to Caesarea Phllippi, where he told them he would not refuse going up Calvary Hill. Then he prayed - the Moffatt translation of the Bible says: "... the appearance of his face altered."
What do you suppose took place here? Could it be that fear and doubt were all gone — swept away — and that spiritual understanding reigned supreme? Could it be that anxiety had fled and strength commanded his thought, that hesitancy and caution were gone and confidence restored?
Couldn't it be that in that moment of prayer we see the beginning of that final resurrection scene that still holds us all in awe and wonder? It was the beginning of the scene which ended with these words: "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matt. 28:6).
This same thing, my friend, can be said of us. A reading of the Christian Science textbook urges it on our thought as we hear Mrs. Eddy say: "... rise above all material sensuousness." (16:20); "... rise into newness of life ..." (24:12); ". . . rise again in the spiritual realm of reality ..." (34:24); ". . . rise superior to the so-called pain and pleasure of the senses!" (242:13); ". . . rise to the spiritual consciousness of being . . ." (261:28); ". . . Rise in the conscious strength of the spirit of Truth ..." (390:32); ". . . rise into higher and holier consciousness" (419:30); ". . . rise to the zenith of demonstration . . ." (565-25).
All we've said in this lecture can be found true in our lives as we fulfill this statement from the inspired life of Mrs. Eddy herself. She writes: "The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance. Every luminary in the constellation of human greatness, like the stars, comes out in the darkness to shine with the reflected light of God" (Mis. 340:26).