The Search for Identity

AS a young boy I remember hearing someone say ''you can't put old heads on young shoulders,'' meaning that people have to learn things as they grow. As I got older, others told me that school days were the best days of my life. In my case this just seemed to be the opposite of the truth. Such conflicting advice was puzzling to me.

Young people dream many dreams. If only they could meet the right girl, or fall in love with the right guy, their lives might take on a whole new meaning. Or so they think. Perhaps they may find themselves under peer pressure, or pushed to succeed with exams or to fulfill other people's expectations of them. They may be trying to deal with bodily and other physical changes.

Sometimes it's tempting to respond to problems with impatience, arrogance, or fear that comes from confusion. If this is your present situation, then investigating the Bible could become the most important decision you make in your whole life. The Bible talks about God. And Christian Science explains the Bible's revelation that we all have a spiritual identity.

This identity can't be brought to light for you by thinking of yourself as mortal and physical. The five physical senses can never tell us anything certain about spiritual existence. By contrast, finding your spiritual identity involves turning away-mentally-from the five senses long enough to hear God speak, in order to begin to comprehend your spiritual being. The Bible describes this attitude of thought in the book of Philippians as ''work[ing] out your own salvation'' (2:12). This is something you have to do for yourself. Parents, friends, and well-wishers can help and encourage you. They can set examples. But they cannot bring out your spiritual being for you, nor you for them. We all have to do this for ourselves. The Bible shows this is most effectively done in the manner that Christ Jesus pointed out.

Even at the age of twelve, when he was questioned for leaving his parents and going into a temple, Jesus answered them, ''[Knew] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?'' (Luke 2:49). This indicates Jesus' awareness of his spiritual identity. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was written by the Discoverer of Christian Science. This was a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. In the book is this statement: ''Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage'' (p. 18). In the study of Christian Science, these two books-the Bible and Science and Health-are indispensable to the understanding of spiritual existence and identity. The continued study of them, and consideration of the spiritual ideas they present, do awaken an awareness of God's love for us. It is possible to turn to the prayer taught in these books to guide you in every aspect of life.

What then are we to make of well- intentioned advice handed down to us by friends or relatives-advice based on human opinion and not on a spiritual perception of things? Well, we must be willing to set aside what is just human will, whether it be our own or someone else's, in order that God's purpose for us can become evident. With trust that God will surely open the right way, it is possible to listen to God, even if you're pressured by the opinions of others. Science and Health says this: ''For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence'' (p. 492). For people to work out their own salvation, therefore, they need to pray. Each one of our needs is known to God, and we can pray to Him and find our prayers answered.

Christian Science explains that we all have the intelligence, wisdom, and ability to know God. His will can become evident each day. His guidance is free of incorrect assumptions, and it does not misguide or lead to false conclusions.

Whether your need might be to pass exams, find meaningful relationships, or have better health, a sincere and unprejudiced approach to the teachings of the Bible cannot fail to bring to light your spiritual identity. This brings out in your life the good that comes from God alone.

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