Buying influence that should never be sold

A Christian Science perspective.

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The examples are legion. From pharmaceutical companies showering medical doctors with gifts that influence what kind of prescriptions the MDs write, to financial firms that target their giving to key members of congressional oversight committees charged with making needed financial reforms, to – on the international front – tree thieves in China who bribe rangers who are supposed to guard the 1,000-year-old trees and their highly prized lumber. Variations on such influence peddling and purchasing are virtually endless. While some of them are plainly criminal, many of them are not. In the financial arena, the technically legal crimes continue. An army of lobbyists descended on Congress. A slight sprinkling of them promoted reform. Twenty-five times as many defended banking interests.

If this sparks disappointment or anger, take heart. There are solid reasons for hope. One vivid illustration comes from Christ Jesus’ ministry. While at times the master Christian was the very picture of gentleness and tenderness – a shepherd warmly caring for his innocent lambs – at other times the Master’s strength and authority, his intolerance of corruption, show through. One example in particular fits. The Gospel of Matthew reports: “Jesus went into the Temple-precincts and drove out all the buyers and sellers there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those who sold doves, crying – ‘It is written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” But you have turned it into a thieves’ kitchen!’ ”

That’s where most retellings of this dramatic episode end. But to do so might mislead readers into thinking it was all simply an emotional outburst. In truth it was so much more. The Bible’s very next words tell us, “And there in the Temple the blind and the lame came to him, and he healed them” (Matt. 21:12-14, J.B. Phillips). From start to finish, this episode was all about the healing Christ, coming from God to human consciousness and repeatedly doing what the Christ so perfectly does.

Even the most helter-skelter moments in the temple weren’t about chaos or violent upheaval. They were about the ever-active influence of the Christ refining, renewing, and, yes, healing. It is inevitable. If Christ is present – and this is always the case – then its healing power and presence are on hand. Christ comes from the one God, which is divine Love. It reaches human consciousness. As the door of thought opens, the transforming influence flows in. Mental states – such as fear or doubt or discouragement – would try to drag a person down, try to make him or her less resilient, more inclined to mentally quit. But remove those unproductive thoughts, and healing – physical healing through spiritual means – puts down roots.

What’s true in the elimination of sickness through spiritual means is true in the destruction of sin, also through spiritual means. Negatives like greed, avarice, covetousness, selfishness, and so on, are foreign to humanity’s true nature as the sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. But until those negatives have been thoroughly washed from thought by the purifying action of Christ, they tend to produce ugly results such as those mentioned at the top of this editorial.

The good news? The divine influence that transforms thought to bring about freedom from physical maladies is the divine influence that cleanses thought to bring about freedom from sin. As sinful thoughts are uncovered and eliminated, sinful acts have nothing to lean on. Greed and the reckless acts it initiates begin to loosen their grasp on a person’s mentality and drift off. The campaign to forward these healing steps proceeds one human consciousness at a time. But the campaign ends up having a global reach. Even those who would wrongfully buy or sell influence can’t forever wall themselves off from the cleansing action of Christ.

Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote the primary work on Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” In the book’s preface she spoke of “a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself ...” (p. xi). Does it sometimes seem that greedy actions repeat again and again, as if the wrongdoer could never be satiated? What a relief to realize it is actually the divine influence that repeats itself. As this repetition continues, patterns of sinful thought and sinful behavior begin to erode. The wrongful buying and selling of political or commercial or medical influence diminishes. A healthier and fairer society emerges.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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