Finding man in the Bible

This is National Bible Week, and it is very fitting that this column pay tribute to that mighty, holy Book.

Some people might think the Bible presents conflicting views on certain points. For example, it apparently presents a confusing, dual view of man. One view portrays him as the image of the one God (see Genesis 1:27), who is eternal and all good. The other depicts him as a sinning mortal (see Genesis, chapter 3) , who is as temporary as the grass in a farm pasture or a suburban yard (see Psalms 103:15).

Which is right? Either? Or neither? Obviously not both.

In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesarm , Cassius remarks, ''The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.'' n1 Could it be that the problem with Bible interpretation lies not in that holy compilation of God's saving messages to mankind but in us ourselves, who may sometimes be less than spiritually-minded readers? It may well be.

n1 Julius Caesar, Act I, scene 2.

Whatever Bible scholarship we may possess, whatever research in commentaries or various translations of the Bible we may undertake in our quest for understanding, there never has been and there never will be any substitute for spiritual inspiration.

The Bible itself in many places helps us resolve the seeming dilemma about man. Isaiah commands, for example, ''Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?'' n2 as much as to say, Stop thinking of mortal man, for there is no ultimate answer in mortality. In another passage the Bible's - and history's - greatest thinker, Teacher, and example, Christ Jesus, says, ''Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.'' n3 We all can at least begin to glimpse that we are now, in truth, God's pure, perfect, beloved idea, and to live that way.

n2 Isaiah 2:22.

n3 Matthew 5:48.

It's important to realize the distinction between this true man, God's perfect and permanent reflection, and the mortals we seem to be as we swagger or stagger through our lives. Yielding our mortal thought of man to the spiritual concept, through living of the Master's Christly teachings, we will feel ourselves being lifted above the material sense of ourselves and others to a higher standpoint. We will feel ourselves being drawn closer to an understanding of man as he truly is, inseparable from God, divine Mind. This process is what is called being ''reborn.'' It is, as Paul says, putting off the old man with his false beliefs and the unwholesomeness that flows from them, and putting on the new man, ''renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.'' n 4

n4 Colossians 3:10.

Man's purpose is to glorify God. ''I [God] have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him,'' n5 we read in the Bible. We fulfill our purpose by being progressively more Godlike in our deepest thoughts and in our everyday lives. Christ Jesus proved by his life that as we do this faithfully, we experience spiritual healing along the way until we follow him into the full understanding of true existence.

n5 Isaiah 43:7

In one of the most tender and important statements in the Bible our Master promised, ''He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.'' n6 We can heal to the degree that we follow Jesus' example and uphold the true concept of man as God's spiritual likeness. Our primary purpose, however, as Jesus also taught, is not merely to gain health or wealth - improved material conditions - but to demonstrate our unity with God - salvation itself.

n6 John 14:12.

The eternal, tender Bible truths are alive today and to a modest degree are being understood and proved. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes as one of the basic tenets of this religion, ''As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.'' n7

n7 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 497.

Is the inspired Word sufficient for everyone? For everyone who opens his heart to Truth. Try it. The Bible has warmed and gladdened and healed the hearts of multitudes through the centuries, and it will yours today. DAILY BIBLE VERSE All scripture is given by inspiration of God. II Timothy 3:16

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