AS I thumbed through the newspaper, I once again noticed the array of unsmiling, almost arrogant faces on near-naked bodies advertising this or that. Ironically, it made me think of Christ Jesus' healing of the man from Gadara.1 To be sure, this man was an extreme case -- he suffered from insanity of great dimensions. Might not our society's preoccupation with the body, however, indicate an imbalance not unrelated to this man's suffering?
The Bible tells us the insane man ``had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.'' His behavior is an apt metaphor for our society, which seems to simultaneously seek and reject spirituality: he sought Jesus out, and yet, paradoxically, he demanded to be left alone. But Christ Jesus healed the insanity so that those gathering found the man ``sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.''
Doesn't this healing contain a spiritual lesson for us all? That sense of a wild personal and bodily existence trying unsuccessfully to govern itself needs to be replaced with the truth of man in loving, humble obedience to God, his creator. ``Sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed,'' seems an apt description to me of the modesty and humility that we all need in order to express more fully our genuine, spiritual nature as God's children.
Perhaps the notion that body is the center of everything is the chief culprit here. God alone is the center and source of all. God is divine Spirit, the infinite One, man's creator -- with no physicality or physical limits or finiteness attached. What's more, since God is divine Spirit, spirituality and not physicality characterizes all of His spiritual creation, including man. The man of God's creating can be identified in terms of the qualities he expresses -- joy, affection, strength, wisdom -- but not in terms of muscularity or other physical characteristics.
If we were to describe our truest friends, we'd surely find ourselves detailing the qualities they expressed that make them so special. Isn't this a hint of what's real and lasting about man? Man in God's image can only be described in spiritual terms. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique.''2
For me, this spiritual fact is really the center of existence. It's not asking us to be prudish, but it does require of us the modesty that subjects our behavior to the larger spiritual fact of man under the loving control of God. Though many of the ads we see say otherwise, real joy and satisfaction come from finding more of our own lives in the spiritual things of God.
Life, viewed in this way, puts us -- and our bodies -- in the balanced, rational perspective of spiritual being. ``What?'' asks the Apostle Paul, ``know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.''3
There is a definite sparkle to spiritual individuality, and true modesty can enhance this sparkle. Mrs. Eddy says, ``Clothed, and in its right Mind, man's individuality is sinless, deathless, harmonious, eternal.''4 So, fully dressed in all its beauty, real individuality can shine for all to see.
1See Luke 8:26-35. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475. 3I Corinthians 6:19, 20. 4Miscellaneous Writings, p. 104.