Do we need religion?
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
A look at the issues that are often reported in the news these days - the need for more care for children, more peace of mind for their parents, better guidance for people entering or reentering the job market, for business leaders, for government officials, and for retirees - indicates what humanity not only needs but in many instances is desperately seeking.
Materialism is not it. People want to feel secure. They want to exercise good judgment, have moral courage, be healed and maintain their health, and express more spirituality. They want what is, in fact, the practical effect of heartfelt religion.
Yet, if religion is merely something we look to as standing by on-call to rescue us, something we turn to just in emergencies, religion is reduced to a kind of firefighting system. That kind of religion presents a limited sense of what God, infinite good, is and of what God can do for us. Such a narrow view of the creator provides little reason for letting devotion to God play a larger and more practical role in our affairs. Instead, shouldn't the place that religion holds depend on what God means to us in our hearts, from moment to moment?
Worship of and devotion to a God who is All - who governs the universe lovingly, intelligently, harmoniously, and who made each of us spiritual, in His own image - are life-transforming and life-preserving. The worship of God becomes essential to our well-being, along with spiritual laws that are understandable and practical, that inspire, guide, and heal us.
Humble, heartfelt devotion to God is, in fact, a saving grace. The Bible tells us, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isa. 45:22). And there's no doubt that the life of Christ Jesus is an excellent example of what is consistently possible when one relies completely on this everywhere present and all-powerful God.
Recently a friend wrote to me and said what her religion, the original Christianity that Jesus taught, has meant to her. She found this Christianity illuminated through the study of Christian Science. My friend wrote: "It's difficult for me to put into words how much my way of thinking has changed since I've really begun studying Christian Science. Most of my childhood and early adult life were fraught with experiences one might consider very challenging. I'm not sure how I can convey to you what a drastic change it is for me to trust God solely for all my needs.... As I approach each day now, I ask God to show me His way. I ask how I can be of service to Him, and present Him with no agenda.... Every evening I look back on my day and am in awe when I see how things have gone when I have focused completely on God's direction."
Wherever a heart is filled with reverence for God, there naturally exists a desire to understand more of God's essence, God's nature, of how God acts. There's also a desire to do good to others, to follow divine direction, to lead an honest, just, and loving life, to help and heal others, and to be more Godlike. This is the genuine spirituality and understanding of God that is both vital and practical, that is religion "of the heart and not of the head," to use the words of the woman who discovered Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy (see "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 140).
We all can expect to be greatly benefited as we make more room for this kind of religion in our lives. When you think about it, how perfectly blessed we already are to have at hand the very thing that meets humanity's deepest needs - the law of God and His always present love.
If thou wilt receive my words,
and hide my commandments
with thee; so that thou incline
thine ear unto wisdom, and apply
thine heart to understanding; yea,
if thou criest after knowledge ...
then shalt thou understand the
fear of the Lord, and find
the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-3, 5
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society