Economic ladder or divine provision?
OUR hearts go out to those who seem to be casualties of the economy -- even of a generally thriving one -- losing jobs or homes or farmlands. Commentators sometimes emphasize the irony that the very factors which thrust some farther up the economic ladder push others to its bottom. But our concern can go deeper than sympathy. Christian prayer can help us see that the concept of a socioeconomic ladder, with a low rung of adversity for every high rung of prosperity, need not finally determine the welfare of anyone. The spiritual fact taught by the Bible is that man is provided for by God, whose image he bears. In the divine economy there are no levels of greater or lesser proximity to good. Good is at hand for everyone. And this spiritual truth can be more widely and consistently proved.
The Bible tells of brothers, twins, who each sought precedence in the family order but who eventually saw that neither had been deprived by the other -- that each had enough. Jacob, born second, was subordinate to his brother, Esau, who was to receive his father's blessing as well as a double portion of inheritance, and would eventually become head of the family. However, Jacob influenced Esau to forfeit his birthright and wrongfully took from his father the blessing meant for his brother. Esau threatened Jacob. Yet, in time, Jacob's nature was changed, spiritually transformed. He became leader of his family and people. And when he and Esau embraced in reconciliation, each declared to the other, ``I have enough.'' 1
We too can find that one individual's gain is not another's loss. It may appear that we experience increased good by moving up in a human scale on which others are relatively lower. But good is not actually the result of a position in an economic order; it's a result of our relationship to God, whose care is direct and impartial, and thus available to all.
Jacob's vision is heartening. He saw ``a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.'' 2 To me this suggests that whatever the heights or depths of our experience, the spiritual intuition that meets our need is within reach. Levels and ranks cannot remove us from the all-presence of God, divine Spirit.
When we take at face value the evidence of the senses, we may see a whole sequence of causes leading to hardship for ourselves or others. Some may be remote world conditions; others may relate to the local economy. But in the light of prayer these can be found not the irrefutable forces they seem to be but variants on a basic falsehood -- the myth that any series of conditions can cause separation between man and God. God is the single cause governing man's life. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes, ``. . . God, the divine Principle of nature and man, when understood and demonstrated, is found to be the remote, predisposing, and present cause of all that is rightly done.'' 3
Christ Jesus' ministry revealed God's presence in the midst of every human condition, bringing wholeness and dominion to individuals across the social spectrum. Finally, in the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, he demonstrated fully the all-presence of God.
No one is separate from God. However low or high our economic status, it is God who provides our good.
1 See Genesis 33:9, 11. 2 Genesis 28:12.
3 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 152.