WHEN I was in college, a friend and I often exchanged views on religion. Though our views were quite diverse, mutual respect and appreciation developed between us. A few years later I had quite a different experience when talking with someone about religion. I had met a young woman, and practically her first words to me were, ``Have you been saved?'' Before I could explain what it meant for me to answer such a question, she was sharing a vivid description of how she had been ``saved.'' Our views on the meaning of salvation were quite a distance apart. In fact, by the end of our visit I felt I had been somewhat judged because I didn't use words in quite the same way to describe my love for God and for His Word in the Bible.
More recently I heard a sermon in which the speaker engaged in what could only be described as an aggressive attack on my religion. It was clear that he held a hostile view toward anyone who didn't see the Bible in quite the same literal light as he saw it.
For the Christian there is certainly something right about a powerful love of God and defense of the Scriptures, which have so clearly revealed God's nature. But there is something very questionable about a kind of fierceness that lacks Christliness. Perhaps the spirit of the Bible's reference to a ``zeal of God, but not according to knowledge''1 could almost be describing a devoutness to Christianity that lacks Christliness. The Christian needs to be careful that his life doesn't become a contradiction!
Jesus, the master Christian--what an example! His life was endowed with a power, an authority, that finally cut through everything that would have opposed his establishing of Christianity. At times his rebuke of sinners and of those who would thwart his mission was strong, unequivocal. But the strength he exercised wasn't distinguished by an antagonism toward those who disagreed with him. There was compassion, there was patience and humility, there was forgiveness and the unswerving conviction that Truth would prevail. In a word, there was the Christ.
The Christ, the divinity that so deeply characterized Jesus' thoughts and actions, is what all of us who are Christians need so faithfully to cultivate in our lives today. When the Christ more fully flavors everything we think and do, a better job will be done of sorting out exactly what the Bible is revealing to mankind. This will enable us actually to carry out all that is implied by the Bible's assurance of our unity in Christ.2
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, hoped with all her heart that her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures would lead people to the Bible; and that her writings would bring to light fresh spiritual inspiration for those who wanted Bible teachings to be reflected in their lives. She wrote, ``The Scriptures require more than a simple admission and feeble acceptance of the truths they present; they require a living faith, that so incorporates their lessons into our lives that these truths become the motive-power of every act.''3
Salvation in its truest, most profound sense will come only step by step--only as we individually are prepared to shed sensuous, earthbound thinking, thinking that sees matter as the substance and intelligence of life, thinking that obscures the ever-presence of God's infinitely good creation. A more accurate perspective on reality comes only through an increased purification of thought, which brings a dawning of the Christ, the light of Truth, in consciousness.
Evidence of our love for Christianity and of our desire that it bless all mankind is best shown in the profound Christian humility that subordinates our lives to Christ's redeeming and healing love. True Christianity is expressed in living the pure, Christly qualities of innocence, integrity, and spiritual affection. It is the saving Christ that awakens us to put off sin and to see ourselves and our fellowman made in the beauty and goodness of God's likeness. As this spiritual awakening takes root in consciousness and finds expression in life, real ``saving'' is happening.
1Romans 10:2. 2See Romans 12:5. 3Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 196-197. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men . . . II Timothy 2:24