Godís Love and the Human Need

 

Florence C. Southwell, C.S.B., of Miami, Florida

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Human needs are essentially needs for spiritual growth, Florence C. Southwell, C.S.B., told an audience in Brookline, Mass., on Saturday morning.

Speaking in the Circle Theatre under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, Mrs. Southwell brought out that the need to understand God's love for man is basic to every human need.

"Security, health, home, achievementóthese things are added naturally to our lives as we become spiritually aware of God's love for man and of man's sonship with God," she stated.

A Christian Science teacher and practitioner from Miami, she served for four years as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society. She is currently on extensive tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.

Mrs. Southwell was introduced by William H. Waite, the First Reader of The Mother Church. The title of her lecture was "God's Love and the Human Need."

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

An age of opposites

No matter what else we believe about the age we're living in, it certainly is an age of opposites, a period of tremendous contrasts. It's true that grand vistas of good are opening to view. But, at the same time, we see alarming conditions going on around us. We've moved into the exploring of outer space, yet we hear increasingly of the urgent need to take immediate steps to preserve life here on earth.

Astronauts who've traveled outer space, including those who've walked the moon, talk of the vastness of the universe. They're eager to search out its mysteries and wonders and now are beginning to talk of a trip to Mars.

But the truth of the universe, including man and the earth, is being revealed today not so much by space travel as by the Science of the Christ. Christian Science is proving through its healing effect that the universe is spiritual, not material.

This religion is based on the great Christian concept that God is Love. But Christian Science brings to Christianity the new concept that God is also Principle. That is, He works through invariable law. God acts, then, in reliable ways. He isn't whimsical or capricious. His care for what He creates is tender and constant. Today I want to talk about how an understanding of this helps to meet our needs, needs such as income, security, health, home, and achievement.

The Bible tells us that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above" - that things essential to human happiness and well-being come from God. The familiar words of James are: "Do not err, my beloved brethren. 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 1:16-17).

Christian Science today confirms this declaration. In fact, it has a perfect correlative to it. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has written, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (p. 494). Let's consider now how our immediate needs are supplied by God, how divine Love does actually meet every human need.

 

Spiritual growth is the need

First of all, let's not think that having our needs met by the providence of God is miraculous. It's natural and right. Christian Science teaches that human needs are needs for good, they're really needs for spiritual growth. That lack of what we need comes from lack of spirituality. Our needs then are primarily needs for spirituality.

But what about the difference between the material things we want and the spiritual ideas that come from God? A spiritual idea is divinely mental. It's a divine concept that originates with God, infinite intelligence or divine Mind.

Through spiritual understanding we learn that what seems to be material is but a false concept, a distortion of the spiritual fact. Now if you or I were looking through a glass with a flaw in it, everything we looked at would be imperfect. So it is with the things the physical senses perceive. What they see are nothing but material concepts. These concepts express the limitations of material thinking and so are always imperfect and material.

But spiritual ideas start with divine Mind, God. They're eternally perfect, forever spiritual. They're perceived by spiritual sense, not by the physical senses.

The things we're seeking, then, are actually ideas of divine Mind. They're spiritual ideas. The ideas of God aren't abstract or intangible. They're not hard to understand. We don't see them materially or with the material eyes, but they come to us clearly as we express Godís qualities. They meet our human need concretely and tangibly, right where we are today.

Take joy, for instance. Many of us feel we need more joy in our daily living. Well, how do we get joy? We "get" it by expressing the quality of joy naturally. Why? Because man in his God-given spiritual nature really does have it, you know.

Most of us express honesty very naturally. If we're going downtown to buy some clothes or cash a check at the bank, we don't stop first to put on some honesty. We don't even stop to think about it. We just go out and naturally express the quality, because we know we're honest.

 

Happiness should be natural

However, when it comes to being happy, sometimes we feel we don't have joy. We think we have to get it before we can express it. But happiness isn't something we put on from the outside. It comes from within.

So we need to express happiness or joy naturally, just as naturally as we do honesty or intelligence. Then we'll find that our days are filled with its brightness. We'll find this quality being expressed around us, helping to bring us what we humanly need - activities that have real meaning, friendships that contribute something worthwhile to others.

We can see then that our primary needs are for what is spiritual, not for material objects or for money. We need to know that God's love for man results in spiritual blessings and these in turn enrich our human experience at every level.

Security, health, home, achievement - these things are added naturally to our lives as we become spiritually aware of God's love for man and of man's sonship with God.

Probably there's no one thing more needed everywhere today than security. Both the young and the old need it. The nations of the world are seeking it. Some time ago, a tiny book about the Peanuts characters appeared in the bookstores. It's titled "Security Is a Thumb and a Blanket." It's a humorous little book, full of illustrations showing that security is a feeling. While security may be symbolized by things, still deeper than that is the feeling it brings. The very last illustration particularly makes this point - it's Linus kneeling beside his bed in prayer, saying "Security is knowing you're not alone!" So we can see even from these simple illustrations that security is an idea, it's something we feel in our hearts and in our minds.

Of course, we're inclined to think of many kinds of security - financial, emotional, or physical - or the kind of security we hear a lot about these days, social security. But governmental or welfare provision alone can't give anyone real security. The only real security there is lies in God's love for man - in the abundance of good He's eternally giving to His beloved child. We're not conscious of this security, however, until we accept it as a spiritual idea, as an idea of divine Love. Feeling God's love for us, we feel secure and safe. But it's only in knowing God's presence with us that we can feel really protected and secure.

 

Security in the Fatherís love

Like Linus, our greatest sense of security comes in knowing we're not alone, that the Father's love ever surrounds and protects us. To feel real security, we need to know we're loved by God.

Basic to our need to know we're loved is our need to know God. Who or what is God? Jesus taught that He is the Father of all, the source and origin of all that really exists. Knowing God as infinite divine Love gives us the clearest concept of Him. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says, "Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love" (p. 340). True security lies in an understanding of this fact. Because God is Love and infinite, evil has no power to harm. Because there's no evil in God, because He's infinite ever-present good, we're secure in proportion as we know Him.

Remember that James started his wonderful statement about every good gift coming from God with these words of warning: "Do not err, my beloved brethren." We err when we look to matter as substance or the source of life. The belief that life and substance are in matter is false. Secure living is the natural result of uncovering and destroying the false belief of life in matter through our understanding and demonstration of man's perfection as God's spiritual idea. The allness of God, good, and the absolute nothingness of evil are divine facts that Christian Science demonstrates through healing sickness and destroying sin.

There's no way to know God with more completeness and assurance than as Father-Mother. Knowing God as Father and Mother makes us aware of our full relationship to Him. We're indeed children of God. His great love for man bestows all good upon him. In one of his letters John says: "We love him, because he first loved us" (I John 4: 19). Our awakening to God's love for us opens our eyes to the good He's giving. And it's God's love alone that makes us safe.

The security that comes from an understanding of God as infinite divine Love does much to establish health for us. You see, health is a condition of divine Mind, not of matter. Even medical men have recognized mental and spiritual elements in health. Sometime ago, the American Medical Society formed the Department of Medicine and Religion. A front-page news item in a metropolitan newspaper quoted a group of doctors as saying: "The majority of patients treated by general practitioners and internists are not organically ill. The physical is but one of four factors. The others are spiritual, mental and social." Spiritual healing is from God. That is, we're healed spiritually only through divine power.

A mother and father demonstrated the healing power of this basic spiritual truth at the premature birth of their son. The father wasn't a Christian Scientist. At times he even resented his wife's dependence on it for healing. Some months before her son was due, the wife asked her husband to call a Christian Science practitioner for help. She learned from the doctor that he was apprehensive for her life and for her unborn child.

The practitioner lovingly assured the husband she would pray for his wife and child. She added that, while he wasn't a Christian Scientist, he did know how to pray. She asked him to pray in his own way. The next day he called the practitioner to say his wife was out of danger, but there was little hope of saving the son since the baby's lungs weren't completely formed. It seemed impossible for him to breathe properly. The practitioner reminded the husband how prayer had helped his wife and said she would pray for the child. She again asked the husband to pray.

The practitioner knew God is the only Life, that this Life is spiritual, and that man has life because God gives it to him. She remembered these words from the Bible. "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; For in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17: 24,25,28).

 

Health a condition of divine Mind

These scientific truths became the basis of her Christian Science treatment. She saw clearly that this little boy was the perfect child of God. God had already given him "life, and breath, and all things." His well-being was divinely bestowed through his spiritual sonship with his Father-Mother God. She knew that the child of God lived and moved and had his being in God, infinite Love.

The baby lived. His parents were told they were indeed fortunate. It was generally accepted that children born under circumstances like these couldn't survive. Today this child is a handsome boy, strong, happy and normal in every respect.

"Health," Mrs. Eddy says, "is the consciousness of the unreality of pain and disease; or, rather, the absolute consciousness of harmony and of nothing else" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 11). Then health is mental and spiritual. It isn't material. It's a condition of thought not a condition of physicality. Good health comes to us as we become aware of our real nature as children of God.

Awareness of our sonship with God is the Christ, Truth. The Christ is Immanuel, God's love always with us. It awakens us to our true nature as children of God. The awakening the Christ brings makes our prayers effective. The Christ is the essence of Love that gives our prayers impetus and power. The scientific truths a practitioner uses in healing need the awareness or consciousness of Love's presence as well as a deep sense of compassion to make them effective. This Christly way of healing establishes a true sense of health. It demonstrates health as a quality of Spirit - not a condition of matter.

And what appears as human need is met at the same time. Consider the restoration of the tiny baby to perfect health through spiritual means alone. This healing actually restored the substance of lungs that was needed for proper breathing. The medical verdict was that the lungs weren't sufficiently formed for the breathing necessary to sustain life. But when the baby joined his family at home, he was in perfect physical health.

 

True sense of family reinforces values

Just as health comes to us as we feel loved by God, so do family and home. A true sense of family and home and happiness helps to maintain a healthy condition of thought. There is nothing that more readily establishes true spiritual and moral values for the young than a home where there's real love and affection. Money or the things it buys aren't enough to give any of us what we really need. Nor will money ever bring out the true brotherhood of man the world is seeking.

Family, in fact, is a divine idea. God is Father-Mother, and man is a family term. It includes all of the sons and daughters of God. Relationships in the human family should be rooted in a recognition of the divine family and in our love for God and man. Pure affection and harmony in homes will come as the spiritual idea of family replaces the false sense of family.

Brotherly love and peace between nations require that the concept of mortals hating and distrusting one another yields to the spiritual idea of God's kingdom. Trust and friendship have a spiritual source. They come from divine Love, from God; Mrs. Eddy writes, "Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring to earth a foretaste of heaven. They unite terrestrial and celestial joys, and crown them with blessings infinite"(Miscellaneous Writings, p. 100).

Right here I'd like to tell you about an experience I had that helped me to see what trust and friendship are. I was traveling in the Netherlands and was out for a walk one dark, gray morning; I didn't know the language, and while the area was interesting, it seemed strange to me in many ways. Maybe I was thinking of myself as a stranger in that land, but evidently I didn't seem a stranger to a little boy. I was waiting at a street corner for a light to change so I could cross over. I suddenly felt a tug on my skirt and looked down into the lovely face of a little boy, about four. He was speaking to me and my response showed that I was still thinking of myself as a stranger.

I leaned down and said, "But dear, I don't understand your language." That he did not accept, he simply brushed it aside and said again what he was trying to communicate to me, and in a flash I understood. He wanted to cross that street and he obviously had been told never to cross over alone. He reached up his little hand and put it in mine, and we walked across that street like old friends. His hand grasped mine with complete confidence, and for the short distance we traveled I glowed in the feeling that love and confidence and trust bring. When we reached the other side he skipped off and I stood watching him, still marveling in the presence of those wonderful qualities of trust, confidence, friendship, and the interchange of love.

 

Home is a spiritual idea

Now, isn't it just as natural for the nations of the world to walk hand in hand together in friendship as it is for individuals? The spiritual idea of man's sonship with God and man's brotherhood with man can help bring out the peace and brotherly love that the peoples of the world need so much today.

Home is a spiritual idea, too. It's really the consciousness of the divine Love in which we have our being. The true sense of home brings with it security and happiness, for we're never outside of its protecting influence. The outward expression of home always comes with the right spiritual understanding of home. It may be large or small, but it will express joy, harmony, order, as well as love and affection.

Home is really an awareness of Love's ever-presence. It's an awareness of the all-embracing love of God. This concept of home blesses the family who shares it and blesses the world in general through the atmosphere of love and purity it exudes. Mrs. Eddy says, "Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections" (Science and Health, p. 58). Such a home does indeed "unite terrestrial and celestial joys" and "crown them with blessings infinite." It brings family and happiness, and the necessity to include our fellowman within the embrace of divine Love.

Mrs. Eddy knew the value of home and family, just as she knew the need for health. She knew from her childhood that some of the dearest treasures on earth come through the interchange of love and affection that home and family represent. Her home was typical of 19th century, rural New England. She was raised in a religious atmosphere where the Bible wasn't just read. It was lived. Her parents were godly people. Each gave to his children an interest in things spiritual. Mary Baker's health concerned her family, but her nature was always loving. As a child, she was eager to help those less fortunate than herself. One cold winter day she gave her warm coat to another child and walked home from school without one herself.

Years later, she confirmed the influence of her early family training. She writes, "From Puritan parents, the discoverer of Christian Science early received her religious education. In childhood, she often listened with joy to these words, falling from the lips of her saintly mother, 'God is able to raise you up from sickness;' and she pondered the meaning of that Scripture she so often quotes: 'And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover' " (Science and Health, p. 359).

This child, who pondered the meaning of the Scriptural command to heal the sick, who needed health herself, was naturally led in later years to the discovery of Christian Science. It came to her after all attempts to be healed of invalidism failed. Her own healing, at a time when the doctor feared she wouldn't survive through the day, awakened her to the basic truths of this Science. She writes of this Christly event: "Whence came to me this heavenly conviction, - a conviction antagonistic to the testimony of the physical senses? According to St. Paul, it was 'the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power'" (Science and Health, p. 108).

Mrs. Eddy loved naturally and spontaneously, just as Christ Jesus did. One individual who knew her well quoted Mrs. Eddy's own words to describe her healing work: "I saw the love of God encircling the universe and man, filling all space, and that divine Love so permeated my own consciousness that I loved with Christ-like compassion everything I saw." Then this friend continued, "The way Mrs. Eddy said the word Love made me feel that she must have loved even a blade of grass under her feet."

 

True achievement never material

Mrs. Eddy made Christian Science available to all through the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which hasbrought spiritual healing to countless people around the globe. In addition, she established the Church of Christ, Scientist, and its many activities.

We spoke earlier of the fact that human needs are needs for good. Another of these is our need for achievement. True achievement is never material. It has a spiritual basis. That is, spiritually, success is a divine idea which, when humanly utilized, enables us to bring right endeavors to fruitful achievement. This human achievement may be the passing of a college examination, the establishing of a business, the happy task of being a homemaker and a mother. But as a spiritual idea, achievement means expressing the divine perfection which God establishes for man.

We can be certain of results by knowing that our real need for achievement is to fulfill our purpose as children of God. Perfection is a divine quality. So the very nature of man's being is to express it. Success in any endeavor is to manifest some of this quality. One of Jesus' commands was, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Expressing perfection is normal and natural to man.

Jesus demonstrated divine perfection. In healing the sick, or raising the dead, or feeding the multitudes, he demonstrated the spiritual perfection of man's being. He's truly the example for all Christians. He has shown by his works as well as by his ministry how to begin demonstrating perfection. He has also shown the divine power that makes perfection possible. He has shown it's a power from God.

 

Jesus manifested excellence

We can see, then, that we succeed in our endeavors in proportion as we express the perfection that is natural to us. Such perfection expressed in daily living is the coincidence of the human and divine. It's the divinity of being appearing right where the mortal seems to be. Jesus, in doing his work successfully, was proving that man is really a spiritual idea, made up of divine qualities. We can't imagine that his work was ever shoddy, or carelessly done. He manifested excellence. His life illustrates that the coincidence of the human and divine is divine Love meeting the human need. It is the love of God providing in just the right way every answer we need.

Demonstrating achievement in what we set out to do will be natural as we put the right motive behind our drive for success. It mustn't be a hard-headed outlining of what we want or think we want. It must be the desire to glorify God in His way.

This is certainly important in the business world. A man I know demonstrated clearly how achievement comes from right motives. He'd become second-in-command in his business and had always been promised that one day he, and a relative of the owner, would inherit the business. Then without warning, the owner told him he'd sold the business. The new owners cut his authority considerably. He found himself consumed with hatred. He couldn't understand how a friend of years' standing could have done such a thing. And you can imagine how much resentment he had toward the new owners.

For two years he struggled with this problem. He couldn't sleep and walked the floor for hours, every night. During this time, he worked with a Christian Science practitioner who told him the only way he could work this out was through love. He never let down in his church work, and no one knew what he was going through. He knew that spiritual growth, spiritual achievement, was his first need, infinitely more important than money or position. So he continued to pray as he had been taught in Christian Science. He prayed from the standpoint of Love's ever-presence. He knew that prayer, to be effective, is really an awareness of Love's presence with us now. It's really communion with God - and through this communion, awakening to God's great love for man.

 

Scientific basis of prayer

To be effective, he knew prayer must be scientific. It can't be blind belief or just praying at random. Prayer that is scientific is based on an understanding of the Father's eternal relationship to man and man's unbroken sonship with the Father. Praying from this standpoint - realization of our sonship with God - we experience the coming of the Christ in our daily lives. The Christ enables us to love our neighbor as ourselves and makes us aware that all men have one Father. And so the clouds began to lift for our friend. He began to love his former employer and to respect the new owners. He found spiritual peace.

Then one day the new owners called him to their office and announced he was being made a vice-president, with a large increase in salary and many other benefits. He said to me, "This good began to flow so quickly and with such rapidity I was overwhelmed. There have been occasions when I declined certain sums of money my employers offered me. I rejoice in the fact I have overcome the 'love of money' and that my only desire now is to serve God and bear witness to Him." And just recently he told me of his appointment as president.

The time and effort spent in establishing spiritual values had their spiritual reward. They also had human rewards in all the ways that any of us would measure achievement. In this experience, the essentials of happiness and security were seen to be spiritual, the natural result of being a "workman approved unto God." Then the human need was met in every right way.

Spiritual values reveal to us God's presence. Heaven is this divine state of thought, not a place nor a locality. Our space travelers are exploring the physical heavens, but Christian Science alone is revealing the kingdom of heaven within us, within our reach now. The reign of divine Love in our lives meets our every human need. This harmonious state of being shows, how all of us may attain the good we need. It's Love's way of giving. It protects us from believing we can get what we need dishonestly, or in any other wrong way. It maintains high standards of conduct in every area of human living.

 

God gives good eternally

In this age of technological advance, the world has great need for true moral values and for the riches of spiritual understanding. How to find the answer to this need is well stated in a hymn.

 

"If we pray to Him in secret,

Lift to Him the heart's desire,

We shall find our earthly longings

All made pure by Love's pure fire.

 

"Then upon the precious metal

God's own image will appear,

Faithfully to Him reflected,

One with Him forever near."

(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 237)

 

This is heaven, the present experiencing of good. It's what the word "always" implies in this statement quoted earlier from Science and Health: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." We don't have to seek far off for that state in which the Father of lights gives all good, for with Him is "no variableness neither shadow of turning." All the good we need He gives us now and eternally.

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 1971, under the headline "Humanityís need is to understand divine Love".]

 

 

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