A POPULAR comedienne once confessed that her dream was not to be a star but a waitress. She longed to shed the humdrum life of acting in front of sell-out Broadway crowds in the hope that she might get that once-in-a-lifetime break: a call to step in as head waitress at the local Howard Johnson's! Of course, audiences understood the humor. But how much light it sheds on our conceptions of what is important, on what we value and, consequently, on what we tend to think of those who fill certain other kinds of jobs. After all, when we think about it, why should someone who makes people laugh be considered more significant or valuable than someone who serves people something to eat? Society often rewards in unfair, even fickle, ways. Merit and approval frequently have little correlation.
But isn't this the nature of fame? One of the meanings of the word is ``rumor'' and, like a rumor, celebrity status can capriciously balloon or deflate, making a person or cause seem ``in'' one moment and ``out'' the next. Happily, the genuine worth of each one of us is in no way tied to our attaining a certain renown -- now or ever. In fact, the distorting nature of fame necessitates our setting it aside to get a true estimate of anyone. In an arresting paragraph from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this very point. ``Take away wealth, fame, and social organizations,'' she writes, ``which weigh not one jot in the balance of God, and we get clearer views of Principle. Break up cliques, level wealth with honesty, let worth be judged according to wisdom, and we get better views of humanity.''
We can apply these statements literally -- right now. If, for example, we assess what we find in our own town or neighborhood without reference to riches, status, or organizations that exist solely for social reasons, we can see more clearly how and what we think of one another. Our own values stand out starkly. We can readily tell whether we tend to view certain individuals as dispensable; whether adults are valued more than children, men more than women (or women more than men!), entrepreneurs more than day laborers or homemakers, and so on. These views and values, in turn, indicate what God, divine Principle, is to us -- because how we view and treat one another is the best gauge there is of what we understand God to be.
If we see ourselves or others as inherently limited, our sense of God is sure to be a little cramped as well. We may be believing, for instance, that our divine Parent is less than a perfect creator, less than all-loving or good or competent. But a more spiritual understanding of God can do wonders to uplift and clarify our perceptions of ourselves and our neighbor -- and in the process to kindle our natural feelings of brotherhood.
Christ Jesus' standard was just this God-based, universal, impartial, brotherly love. Its roots are found in his undeviating certainty that he was God's Son and that man -- the real nature of each of us -- is completely Godlike, completely spiritual. The identity we have in common as God's sons and daughters inspires us actively to appreciate signs of spirituality -- good-will, honesty, pure-mindedness, compassion, innocence, and so forth -- in others, regardless of their apparent rank humanly, and to nurture the expression of such God-derived qualities in ourselves.
Praise for those who are considered celebrities nearly always begins and ends with a human personality. Contrast this with John's record of Jesus' request of his heavenly Father prior to his crucifixion: ``Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.'' Celebrating Christ Jesus' nature really means celebrating God's nature. The fame of Jesus that Luke says spread ``through all the region round about'' during his healing ministry almost two thousand years ago is still spreading.
Immortal deeds live on. And they have their origin in Godly wisdom and Christlike living. The recognition of one's efforts to do the right thing, the intelligent thing, the loving thing, is not what matters. It does not matter whether the doer is a pauper or a king, an executive or a horse trainer, a seemingly solitary old woman or a concert pianist. Are we glorifying God? That is the question to be answered. If our joy is in the spiritual work of celebrating good, God, not only will others be blessed -- often beyond anything we might know or be able to calculate -- but we will be making a lasting contribution to bringing out the radiance we all possess as God's offspring.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
BIBLE VERSE Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23, 24