A Practical Christianity

ABOUT a year ago, I visited Canterbury Cathedral in England and was delighted to find there an exhibit devoted to the relevance of Christianity. Through examples from people's daily lives as well as statements by Christ Jesus, the church was responding to visitors' concerns regarding both their own futures and the world's.

The contemporary relevance of Christ Jesus' ministry is readily proved through the teachings of Christian Science. This Science of the Christ brings alive the Bible's message of man's spirituality and God's unending love for His creation. It reveals to us that the good we are seeking comes from God, not through material striving or relying on social or political ''connections.''

To rely on material foundations is always to be vulnerable to temptation or loss. The person who is our friend today may not be able to help us tomorrow. But God is always with us, as Christ Jesus proved, and relying on our divine Father opens the door to permanent good. Matthew's Gospel records how Jesus made this clear in his parable about the builders of two houses. One of the houses, which represented those who ignore Jesus' teachings about reliance on God, was built on a foundation of sand. When heavy rains fell, that house collapsed. This illustrates what happens when we rely on material circumstances, which can be quite changeable.

The other house, however, was built on a rock. Jesus said of this house and its builder: ''Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock'' (7:24, 25).

This is the foundation we have when we build our lives on the rock-the spiritual truth that man is made in God's likeness and is inseparable from Him. God is not changeable. He doesn't love us today and hate us tomorrow. He always loves us! No matter what human circumstances we may be facing, God always sees us as His perfect offspring, expressing His good and pure nature. This means that He is always caring for us. Mary Baker Eddy brings out this point in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. There the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science writes, ''Step by step will those who trust Him find that 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' '' (p. 444).

Here is an example. One morning on the way to work I became so ill that I literally could not continue driving. I asked the woman who commutes with me to take over, since it seemed simpler to go to work than to return home. I spent the next half-hour diligently praying to God for healing. I chose to rely on prayer because the study of Christian Science has shown me the value of trusting Him for all my needs.

In my prayer, I affirmed that the nature of God, divine Love, is peaceful and gentle. The illness and pain I was feeling could never be a part of Love. Since man is spiritual, he cannot actually be touched by material conditions. Certainly suffering never could come from divine Love! As I continued to pray in this way, I felt the pain and illness diminish. I was totally well!

Of course, we don't need to wait until we are in trouble to come to know God! My healing was made easier because I had already proved in many ways-large and small-that God was caring for all my needs. We each can prove the relevance of Christianity in our daily lives by making active efforts to be more loving toward others, to keep our thoughts pure, and to resist the temptation to rely on matter instead of Spirit. Studying the Bible and Science and Health is a great way to gain a fuller understanding of the Science that Jesus taught to his disciples and left for us to learn also. As we put spiritual truth into practice, we will find that these ''old'' truths have all the sparkle of newness for our present day.

If ye shall ask any thing

in my name,

I will do it.

John 14:14

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