Identity: demographic or God-derived?

PEOPLE are polled and graphed, tallied and surveyed today as never before. Political and commercial campaigns, the media, researchers and scholars, as well as government planners and policymakers, all depend heavily on the demographics of our society to help them keep pace with the world's pulse. While demographics can certainly be useful, they are an ultimately unsatisfactory basis for defining and evaluating our identity. There is much more to us than our socioeconomic status, age, education level, family size, ethnic origin, gender, and the other classifications of demography that would define us. And the conflict sometimes unleashed by these distinctions reveals an urgent need to dis- cover a more satisfying and unifying basis from which to define ourselves. The Bible provides such a basis in the higher view it gives of our unbroken relationship with God as His children, made in His image. Since God is Spirit, as Christ Jesus declared (see John 4:24), man's identity must actually be spiritual. Sociological classifications never define our true spiritual status as the outcome of the infinite Life that is God. Our actual existence is now, and always has been, the immortal, unfettered, and complete offspring of the one divine Mind. The conditions and categories measured by demography don't have any bearing on our true being or our relation to God. Christian Science teaches the importance of keeping thought on our relationship to God in defining who we are, and not settling for the externals of human existence as the indicators of identity. It shows us how to realize more than what our eyes and ears tell us man is and to begin seeing things from a spiritual perspective. This uplifted viewpoint, in harmony with the law of infallible divine Love, necessarily results in a freer, more fulfilling experience. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The spiritualization of our sense of man opens the gates of paradise that the so-called material senses would close, and reveals man infinitely blessed, upright, pure, and free; having no need of statistics by which to learn his origin and age, or to measure his manhood, or to know how much of a man he ever has been . . . .'' 1 Christ Jesus taught and lived this spiritual view of man. Those around him categorized people and gauged their status with God by their sinfulness, social standing, sex, degree of health or wealth. But Jesus rejected these temporal terms and beheld only the beloved creation of God, defined and maintained by God alone. And from this standpoint he was able to eliminate the restrictive evidence of sin, sickness, and lack, and to unlock for all humanity the spiritual treasures of a higher, Godlike selfhood. Concern for statistics need not blind us to the blessings of our actual, spiritual selfhood. And it won't if, through consecrated prayer and monitoring of our thoughts, we daily cultivate an ever clearer sense of our relationship to God as His expression. Then the worldly measurements of identity, often divisive, won't seem nearly as important as the fact of each one's innate Christliness and unity with his heavenly Father. The Apostle Paul saw that this spiritual unity cut through the demographic definitions of his day when he wrote, ``There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.'' 2 As we grow in our understanding of God and of man as His spiritual representative, untouched by materiality, we begin to see that we are not actually at the mercy of either our environment or our own self-perceptions, but are solely dependent on all-knowing, all-loving Mind. Despair, jealousy, or pride over our position in the stream of statistics will increasingly yield to the peace, unity, and love that have their source in God's goodness. We need not think of ourselves or others as ciphers in a growing global numbers game, but can begin today to define ourselves on a divine basis, as the precious and incomparable expression of infinite, all-embracing Spirit. 1 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 185. 2 Galatians 3:28.

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