Is Status a Label?
AS we exchanged small talk about school I realized that a young friend was checking the labels on my jacket and shoes. They were not the currently fashionable brands! This little incident got me to thinking about some recent news reports of crimes that were committed by young people to obtain status-label products. Even very young children are learning to think that popularity and status can be signaled by the names on their clothing and other possessions.
Such a yardstick for value, however, can never measure a person's genuine spiritual worth. The real identity of each one of us is that of the child of God. This identity doesn't depend on special clothing, job title, salary level, or place of residence. Status that's dependent on material conditions like these can be wiped out in a moment by a change in conditions. To live a satisfying and productive life we need a firmer foundation, a better sense of being, a better view of our real standing. And this more durable status is found only in expressing the spiritual nature that evidences our real status as children of God.
The Bible tells us how to discover our genuine spiritual status: ``We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.''1 Learning to judge by innate, spiritual integrity rather than by the outward labels or ``things which are seen'' puts us on the right path. In the long run, trustworthiness, fidelity, purity, that stem from God are more desirable -- more valuable -- than any accumulation of material possessions.
Christ Jesus gave us a living example of true status. He looked to his Father-Mother God as the source of all he had, said, did, and was, saying, ``I can of mine own self do nothing.''2 By yielding to his divine status as a child of God, Jesus was able to love so deeply and purely that he healed the ills of those who sought his help. His focus was not, however, on the outward but on the inward man. And by following his teaching and preaching we learn to give up whatever stands in the way of our spiritual progress.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, helps us to understand the nature of the real man, which Jesus beheld. Here is part of what she says about man: ``Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas....''3
The completeness of God's creation needs no embellishments to enhance someone's status in his own eyes or anyone else's. We need to examine the inner motives, to recognize spiritual qualities as primary, and to be sure we know what is most important in our lives. After speaking of the impermanence of a solely material sense of existence and the permanent reality of spiritual, immortal man, Mrs. Eddy goes on to say, ``Learn this, O mortal, and earnestly seek the spiritual status of man, which is outside of all material selfhood.''4
Our God-given status as His child, loved and loving, isn't a label that can fade, become outdated, be removed, or get hidden. It's ours for keeps. As we learn more about our spiritual being, as we nurture and cherish it in day-to-day living, the security that comes with such recognition makes us more able to assist others in seeing their own spiritual status. The world needs good models. What better one can we choose than the Master, Christ Jesus?
1II Corinthians 4:18. 2John 5:30. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475. 4Ibid., p. 476.