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Have you been thinking that the church you attend isn’t what you want it or expect it to be? Maybe you think it’s dull or restrictive, something uninspiring. If what you’re thinking about Church is unattractive, if it’s something you don’t care to unite with, consider the significance of seeing Church from a different standpoint.
The Church founded by Mary Baker Eddy, a Church based on divine Love, can’t really contribute anything less than healing to one’s life. It isn’t dull or restrictive; it’s freeing. Mrs. Eddy says: “Our church is built on the divine Principle, Love. We can unite with this church only as we are new-born of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and the Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love,—casting out error and healing the sick.”
This view of Church challenges material appearances and human opinions at the deepest level. It identifies the high purpose of Church to be Christian healing, and those who practice and experience something of this healing in their lives can—and do—unite with it.
When you think of uniting with Church in this way, through Christianly scientific healing, it’s clear that membership in the Church of Christ, Scientist, isn’t meant to be a passive or meaningless experience. And it should never be dull! Such perceptions are reversed as we strive to improve our lives, and the lives of others, morally and spiritually, through an understanding of Christian Science.
The Science of Christ confronts every element in human thought that resists the underlying purpose of this Church to put Christian healing at the center of one’s life. At the root of indifference, self-righteousness, sensuality, or apathy is the belief that spirituality is foreign to us, that we are self-made, self-driven creatures of the flesh, that we’re unrelated either to God or to our fellow men and women. What’s needed instead is to understand that man—the genuine identity of each of us—is totally spiritual, that God, Spirit, is our sole creator and sustainer, and to clarify our sense of one another as brethren living in accord with our creator, reflecting His spiritual and loving nature.
Ignoring or resisting what is essential to a God-centered, God-governed life is an argument of the carnal mind, the suppositional mentality opposed to the one infinite Mind, God. Such an argument would portray the divine wisdom and universal care expressed in the activities of Church as either irrelevant or unrealistic. It might even audaciously suggest to someone who loves God and is spiritually-minded that Church is somehow interfering with his spiritual growth. It would argue for a self-gratifying relation to God with little interest for the well-being of others. Such suggestions run counter to Christ Jesus’ counsel to love God supremely and to love others as ourselves.2 Recognizing such resistance as a product of the carnal mind, without legitimacy or power and opposed to good, opens the way to discern the essential role Church plays in our spiritual development and progress.
Spiritually progressive thinking and doing is what makes Church vital and effective in our lives. In fact, it’s this kind of thinking which Church promotes, and which heals. And, again, healing is the primary purpose of Church. The human organization—with its church services, Sunday Schools, lectures, periodicals, Reading Rooms—is designed to support that purpose, not just for ourselves but for everyone.
Not long ago, after a Wednesday evening testimony meeting, a man stopped me to say how much all that The Mother Church sends forth has meant to him and has contributed to his life. He noticed that on a recent Sunday, for example, he had not only found inspiration from the Lesson-Sermon read at his local branch church, but had found both the print and radio editions of the Christian Science Sentinel very helpful that morning. And he’d gained some useful ideas from a Christian Science lecture that afternoon.
To think of Church as something external to us, something unimportant, something we can do without, is to fail to see its essential place within our lives as a powerful and practical resource for healing. It’s to overlook how Church helps us and others in the best, most practical ways; how it helps us to eradicate the belief that man is mortal and forwards our progress so that we become “new-born of Spirit.”
One challenge may be that when we think of Church, what may sometimes come to mind is a view of a group of less-than-perfect people doing a less-than-perfect job of living up to the high standard of Christian Science. Our response, however, shouldn’t be to distance ourselves from others, to be judgmental, or to turn away from Church. What’s needed is what Church is all about—healing.
Our prayer will help us recognize that the very basis of such appearances—the deception that man is mortal, fallible, material—is the dismal claim of error. Christian Science deals with it as just that—as a false claim, not an actuality. It’s never true, even for a moment, that man can be less than the image of God, of perfect good. Establishing the spiritual truths of God and man in our own thought, and living them, is what brings healing and spiritual growth to our lives and to our church. It reveals more and more of what has always been true about us and others as the offspring of God, good. This metaphysical activity both transforms individual lives and unites us.
Now is the time to know, with a clearer conviction than ever before, the significance of this spiritually founded Church as a promoter of inspiration and healing for society. It may also be the time, for many of us, to recognize how much more we have to learn about Church—and from it. Then we’ll come to see that Church is in no way dull or impractical, or helpless in the face of the world’s materialism. Humble listening and a stronger commitment are called for. These will prepare us to unite actively with Church, and be blessed by it, in the truest way.
from The Christian Science Journal, October 1993