The Spiritual Challenge To Historical Precedents
FOLLOWING the news can be an absorbing process. You could even say it's become an integral part of good citizenship in what many today call our ``global village.'' Yet like all facets of good citizenship, the call of duty involves active participation, rather than merely passive observation. This does not mean that we can or should react to the news by rushing to every trouble spot to help out! But there are things we can do, and prayer is one of them.
Prayer makes a powerful difference to the situations and circumstances that we hear about. As we pray, we'll see more ways to act on our honest desire to support mankind's quest for peace and justice. One thing that I've found needs constant attention in our prayers is the supposition that present and future events are defined by historical precedents.
It seems only natural to weigh the expectations for today's and tomorrow's events against what seem to be causes found in yesterday's experiences. Yet we are better able to serve the world through our prayers and actions if we base our expectations for the future less on historical data and more on the timeless truths that are taught in the Bible. The Scriptures' spiritual message of what God is and of what man in reality is as God's pure and sinless child gives a healing perspective.
Is it reasonable to expect this to make a difference? Yes. It is reasonable to the degree that we first prove that this spiritual basis of expectation makes a difference in our own daily experiences. Through understanding man's spiritual relationship to God we can find freedom from expecting that our life--our health, our character, our intelligence--will be defined by who our family is and what our background has been.
The Bible reveals God to be the true Parent of us all. Through prayerful recognition of God as the divine Parent from whom we each spiritually inherit all that we actually are, we discern the rich inheritance of His qualities of divine good that are man's genuine birthright.
These spiritual qualities constitute the true substance or spiritual manhood that Christ Jesus proved to belong to each of us. On this basis the Master proved that no theory of heredity or mortal history could truly touch man. When his disciples speculated about the blindness that a man had suffered since birth, the Saviour rebuked their inquiry as to whose sin had caused the problem. The Gospel of John in the Bible records Jesus' response: ``Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the wo rks of God should be made manifest in him.''
I have come to think of what Jesus said as telling us, in effect, ``Not only is no one's sin responsible for this ailment, but it's a lie that this condition really exists to stop this man from living up to his true purpose of glorifying God by his spiritual well-being and health.'' Certainly the man's sight was then restored by Jesus in defiance of all supposed causes.
As we understand and demonstrate, step by step, the divine sonship that Jesus proved for all, we overcome the false character traits and physi-cal ailments believed to have been inherited. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, simply and clearly states in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Heredity is not a law.''
There's a marvelous freedom that comes from this spiritual discovery and the evolving practical demonstration of genuinely individual identity that follows. It liberates us from being resigned to repeating previous generations' unhappy experiences. It is wonderful if we are willing and able to demonstrate this for ourselves. Yet the infinite nature of spiritual Truth can't be confined to just personal concerns. Infinite Truth must be vast enough to apply to the collective concerns of all humanity.
Thus we can be alert to see that there is ultimately no law of material heredity for nations, tribes, or ethnic groups any more than there is for individuals. This Christly vision is an understanding that quietly supports progress toward healing rifts and calming potential conflicts. It also aids the demonstration of man's universal right to justice, freedom, and fairness.
It is our right to insist that the only real law is God's law of His ever-current goodness, which is perpetually revealed to man through Christ, the spiritual messenger to men of God's all-good nature and all-power. As Mrs. Eddy points out in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: ``It is convenient for history to record limitations and to regard evil as real, but it is impossible in Science to believe this, or on such a basis to demonstrate the divine Principle of that which is real, har monious, and eternal--that which is based on one infinite God, and man, His idea, image, and likeness.''
These truths might not make headlines in our newspapers, or on the evening news. As we are firmly aware of their validity in our prayer, though, they will be quietly effective around the world, and they will help and bless receptive hearts that are reaching out to God for answers.
To the extent that we sincerely do this, we can increasingly expect to find but one obvious historical precedent for the surprising progress of practical good that comes to light for our world. That precedent is the Bible record of man's God-given spiritual dominion, as proved so fully by the Saviour, Christ Jesus--whose lifeworks continue to challenge all limited, historical precedents!