IT'S common knowledge that dinosaurs have been extinct for about sixty-five million years. But the other day I think I saw eight of them flying over the creek behind my house. No, I didn't have a bad dream, and it wasn't a strange cloud formation passing by that just happened to look like a stampeding brontosaurus herd! I had simply learned something I hadn't known before: that today many paleontologists believe birds are probably distant relatives of the dinosaur family. I don't think I'll ever look at a flock of Canada geese in quite the same way.
All of this, though, points to something else as well -- something about human nature and the influence of new ideas, new perceptions. When we're set in our ways and our viewpoints, there's a certain sameness about things. Yet when we're willing to look at things in a different way, we find that our experience is invigorated with a new sense of possibility.
Nowhere is this more true than in what might be called our spiritual life. If we listen to what our spiritual sense tells, we begin to discover a wholly different kind of life and reality -- life in and of God. The record of early Christianity shows the transformation that can take place in people's lives as they begin to glimpse spiritual ideas and to see life's meaning in a new context. People were healed. There was something about discovering what it can really mean to be the child of God that liberated people from bondage.
The Apostle Paul spoke of this spiritual adventure: ``Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.''1
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, seems to echo the sentiments of Paul when she writes: ``Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, -- this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.'' Then, quoting Christ Jesus, Mrs. Eddy concludes: ``The purification of sense and self is a proof of progress. `Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.'''2
What is this new, ``advanced idea'' that transforms human life? It has to do with the allness of God, His omnipotence and omni-presence as infinite Spirit. And it has to do with what this great reality of God means for His creation. The child of God -- who we all truly are -- is the highest expression of the Father's creating, His spiritual likeness. When our prayer and spiritual sense lead us to consider man's identity in this new and original way, we have a new standard for living.
Accepting the perspective of divine reality provides unlimited possibilities. Once we've glimpsed God's man as he actually is, and always has been -- as the spiritual and immortal likeness of his Maker -- we'll never again think of ourselves or others in quite the same way. Instead, we'll be seeing and demonstrating more of God's creation in its perfect completeness, and that will certainly make a difference in the way we all live.
When a new idea is spiritually based, it does even more than change a limited perception of our surroundings. It actually changes us. It brings a measure of true redemption and Christian healing. Perhaps that's what the best learning is really all about.
1Philippians 3:13, 14. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 323-324.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the June 5 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.