Have you noticed that the subject of “saving for retirement” isn’t just reserved for those close to retirement? The gap seems to have widened to the point where even college graduates are tense – urged to start investing now – though they may not have quite landed a job yet. And the next generation up? Parents of young children, working diligently to meet monthly expenses, get the stare-down from billboards on the road, sending some version of the message: “The clock is ticking. Are you investing?”
From singles to seniors, fear seems to be the dubious gift that keeps on giving. But the good news is that there is a way to be free of anxiety and worry about the “future” no matter what our age or stage in life.
Mary Baker Eddy knew there was an answer. That’s because she found all of life’s answers in the Bible, the book that became the basis for her founding an entire religion – Christian Science. “The Bible has been my only authority,” she said matter-of-factly. “I have had no other guide in ‘the straight and narrow way’ of Truth” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 126). Through her deep study, she came to understand that this straight and narrow way doesn’t include the shackles of conformity or confinement that the word “narrow” ordinarily implies. Instead, in liberating thought from the shackles of fear, thought is led away from a restrictive dollar-and-cents “bottom line” – to God’s infinite provision.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t take practical steps. Of course we do. But what it does mean is that right within those ancient biblical pages we can get more up-to-the-minute guidance about provision than in all the self-help books that fill bookstores and cyberspace.
That’s because the greatest investment adviser of them all was Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus recites the parable of “a certain rich man” – whose investments had “brought forth plentifully” (see Luke 12:16-21). But he had a problem. He ran out of room to store his “fruits” and his “goods.” So the idea came to him to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. Then he’d be satisfied because his goods would be secure. He’s quoted as saying, no doubt with relief, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years.” But rather than giving the man high praise for shoring up his future through expanding his square footage, Jesus suggested another kind of expansion – in thought. It was then communicated, through God, that “this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided?”
And right after that comes the key message for today, as Jesus informed those listening that liberation can never come to the thought that “layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Within this parable is the real money in the bank. Because Jesus is leading us to be “rich toward God,” first and foremost – rich in coming to understand that safety and security are never a personal responsibility but reside entirely in our identification with, and confidence in, God, one Mind. This identification allows us to see the value of expressing such qualities as selflessness, grace, honesty, mercy, and humility.
A few lines after the rich man’s story comes one of Jesus’ most profound statements: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on” (Luke 12:22). Instead of preoccupation with material concerns – whatever it is we might “put on” – we are led to see where our true investment lies. The word “investment” comes from the Latin investire – which means “to clothe.” A line from a hymn says: “Reclothe us in our rightful mind” (John Greenleaf Whittier, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 49). Those few words speak to the natural yearning each one of us has to reject fear, doubt, and greed, and to reclothe – “re-invest” – in the spiritual birthright that is ours to claim. A birthright that identifies us as a dynamic aspect of infinite Mind. Free from the ruminations of human calculations, the atmosphere in consciousness is purified, the path cleared of mental debris – paving the way for practical, creative solutions in our lives.
We can rest in knowing that whatever we have in the bank, the greatest investment we can make in our future is the spiritual thoughts we hold, nourish, and cherish right now.
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.
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