WHEN I was in college, I thought I had life pretty well figured out. Not surprisingly, after graduation my outlook began to change. Today's challenges -- with upheavals searing Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East -- have made my youthful certainty seem even more callow. It's natural, as we move forward, to gain more expansive, mature views. But there's a dimension to progress that goes beyond the need for mellowing and broadening our outlook. It's a spiritual dimension, a willingness to see things from a God-inspired perspective. Christ Jesus said, as John's Gospel records, ``Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.'' And St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians told us, ``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.''
In addition, then, to the need for a more mature perspective is the importance of a spiritual outlook that reaches beyond the apparently fixed realities of material existence to the harmony of spiritual creation, to the genuine state of being created by God, Spirit.
This may seem impractical and unattainable -- even escapist. Yet it's far from that. It's natural and totally in line with Biblical teaching. The ``things which are not seen,'' we're told, are eternal, substantial. It's appropriate, then, that we begin to glimpse what's enduring rather than simply focus on what's fleeting and destructible. And doing so couldn't be more practical. It opens the way for healing, through prayer, by showing us that, despite appearances, the spiritual reality of God's care has never been absent and that it embraces every aspect of our lives.
Clearly Jesus' understanding of spiritual reality underlay his ability to destroy, through divine power, the false, temporary evidence of sin and sickness. His higher perception brought to light the well-being of man as God's spiritual likeness. Jesus is, of course, the Way-shower. His works are unparalleled. But what he taught and proved provides an example for us to follow, however modestly. We can begin to do this through prayer, through a humble desire to know and do the will of God, through daily purification of thought.
For instance, as we look at news reports of the suffering caused by war and repression, we can realize that adverse situations are not beyond hope, that they can be changed. And our own prayers can help in this regard. We can move beyond the standpoint of simply accepting troubles as the way things are to remembering how God has truly created man, in His image. Our growing spiritual sense of life will then lead to wise and healing action.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The human mind will sometime rise above all material and physical sense, exchanging it for spiritual perception, and exchanging human concepts for the divine consciousness. Then man will recognize his God-given dominion and being.''
Even our willingness to cultivate spiritual perception, to admit that reality in its truest sense is beyond what physical eyes and ears report, is a helpful beginning. If humanity is to be led out of the darkness of materialism, with its suffering, more of us have to discern the reality of spiritual life, discern its perfection under God's government, discern the immediacy of its application to human needs. No work is more satisfying or practical. It impels reformation and healing.