Our shared family name
A Christian Science perspective: Healing ideas on what it means to be part of the family of man.
—When praying recently about unity in the world, I was struck by a statement from Mary Baker Eddy in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Man is the family name for all ideas, – the sons and daughters of God” (p. 515). The idea of “man” as the “family name” inspired me to think deeply about the relationship between God’s sons and daughters – His ideas.
The Lord’s Prayer begins “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9), which is interpreted in Science and Health as “Our Father-Mother God” (p. 16). This means that anyone – be it a close friend, a family member, a politician – is, in reality, a son or daughter of God. If we are all the children, or ideas, of one God, who is Spirit, this means we all relate to one another spiritually. In fact, our spiritual relation to each other as God’s children is the only relation we could possibly have.
At one time, Christ Jesus was talking to a crowd when he was told that his mother and brothers wanted to see him. In Mark’s gospel, it is written, “He answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:33-35). To Jesus, it wasn’t a fleshly connection that unified.
The generic term “man,” used in the Bible and in Christian Science, unites us all together in equal oneness with our divine source, God, whom Jesus proved to be good. For example, Science and Health states, “Man is idea, the image, of Love...” (p. 475), and on an earlier page, “man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468). This truth of man’s spiritual, God-given nature leaves no room for division, or for anyone to be excluded from good.
A few years ago, I had an experience that taught me an important lesson about our unity with God. I was working on an important school project with a group of people. Although we were all working very hard, we couldn’t seem to produce anything that was satisfying the teacher’s requirements. Every time we created something we thought was good, the teacher would tell us that it wasn’t good enough and ask us to try something different. As a group, we became very frustrated. Our sessions grew less productive and more negative as we became disheartened by our lack of progress.
At this point I decided to turn to prayer. I asked my mother how I could help the group from a spiritual standpoint, and she recommended that I pray with the truth that there is only one Mind, because there is only one God, and that the divine Mind governs man and therefore is speaking to all of us – including everyone in my group and the teacher – and this prayer would be a unifier. As I prayed with this idea, I realized I had been latently thinking that, although everyone was providing great ideas, my ideas were better! As soon as I realized this, I worked to humbly see that I was governed by the divine Mind; I didn’t have a mind of my own, separate from God or from the other people involved. Although everyone in the group had his or her own spiritual individuality, we were all under the control of the one divine Mind, God, and were receptive to the ideas God provides.
As I took a step back from a willful insistence that only I was right, I was able to see everyone’s individuality shine through. We soon reached a harmonious proposal that the teacher was on board with. I was able to witness the unity that naturally exists between God’s children. Understanding our oneness in God didn’t detract from anyone’s individual expression, and it showed that it is natural to work in harmony with each other.
We can break free from us-and-them thinking by recognizing the “family name” we all share as sons and daughters of God. This change begins in our own thought and blesses our universal family.