A high-school buddy and I were talking about ''the good ol' days,'' when he confided to me, ''Things sure aren't what they used to be. I'm starting to get a 'tire' around my waist. Lately, sports seem more like work than fun. Been noticing other things too - little aches I never had before, some gray hairs, my hairline receding. And my job - it seems like such a dead end. Time has gone by so fast. Whatever happened to our dreams?''
If we start feeling this way, it's a sure sign of - what? Middle age? Of a ''mid-life crisis''? Superficially, perhaps. But depressing and self-defeating feelings such as these are symptomatic of a much more fundamental problem - that of believing we're merely biomechanisms going through the various stages of development and decline.
We don't have to accept this dead-end view of life; we can do better than just learn how to cope psychologically with middle (or any other) age. Christian Science shows us how to put our life on a whole new basis - a spiritual one. We can learn that Spirit, God, is the actual source of man's health and life - of his very being. And we can see the regenerative effects of this understanding in our lives.
To gain true happiness and abundant life, we need to put off ''the old man'' - our present sense of identity as material - and ''put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'' n1 This ''new man'' that St. Paul is speaking of is actually original man - unfallen man in the image and likeness of Spirit, not matter. It is the ideal man Christ Jesus brought to light as the Son of God. It is the man you and I can know and prove ourselves to be as we are changed by the power of God.
n1 Ephesians 4:22, 24.
To put on this ''new man,'' Paul says we must ''be renewed in the spirit of (our) mind.'' n2 Fundamentally, this involves gaining a new, Christlike perception of God and man. It means nurturing a transcendent spirit within us, one that flows from the joyous understanding that the very reality of our being is good not evil, spiritual not material, deathless not dying.
n2 Ephesians 4:23.
Mary Baker Eddy, n3 a woman of great spiritual vision, saw the full potential of man in Christ - saw that the ideal man was forever beyond limitation, sin, and mortality. She writes: ''In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being.'' n4
n3 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 63.
Each ''his'' in this statement can be proved to be a ''my'' if we earnestly yearn for and seek this glorified understanding of man. To become conscious of the truth of man's real nature progressively frees us from the effects - mental and physical - of viewing ourselves as aging mortals. Spiritual man, the ''new man'' we awake to in Christ, doesn't age or decline. He has no mid-life crisis. His Life is God and therefore includes never-ending progress and unlimited development of being.
The Christian Scientist doesn't expect proving this to be a trivial task. We don't put on the ''new man'' the way we put on a new coat! Nor will just thinking about these ideas suddenly make us happy and healthy. Because the material senses cannot comprehend Spirit, the renewing of ''the spirit of (our) mind'' requires faith, hope, and growth in knowledge of God. Sinful and materialistic thinking and living need to be put off.
But we don't struggle alone. God Himself works mightily in those who strive to prove their spiritual sonship. And what a goal we seek! Nothing can keep us from learning more each day of our spiritual manhood and womanhood. Holding close to our heart the idea that Spirit, not matter, is the ''primitive and ultimate source of being'' will help regenerate and reform us. We will feel God redeeming our lives and lifting us to the demonstration of man's infinite possibilities as His ageless creation. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thine age shall be clearer than the noonday. Job 11:17