Why spirituality?

WHAT exactly is spirituality and why is it important to us? Or is it really important at all? Does it actually make a difference in the course of events, in the outcome of our lives? These are crucial questions, whether or not we've ever found them of interest. If we're inclined to think that the things of Spirit have little relevance to us or to anyone, aren't we pretty much feeling that we can live without divine help and that ultimately everyone is without that help, generally at the mercy of circumstances beyond anyone's control?

The writer of Ecclesiastes may have been expressing this feeling when he said: ``All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean.... This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all.''1

And yet we also find in the Bible these words: ``Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.''2 And the Apostle Paul stated directly, ``To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.''3

So what is spirituality, or spiritual- mindedness, and how can it help if we all face the same ultimate challenges?

Christ Jesus pointed to the nature of spirituality when he taught that we must worship God ``in spirit and in truth''4 if we're to worship rightly. We can't worship God in spirit if our thoughts tend to be sensual or dishonest or judgmental. And even further, we can't worship God rightly if we have a false sense of what He has created -- if, for example, our whole view of life is colored by the conviction that the physical world, with its suffering and injustice, is all there is to life. We can't worship God in spirit if we're convinced that physicality is our identity or if we see the attainment of material comfort as the ultimate goal of life. ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,''5 Jesus taught.

To worship God in spirit -- to cultivate genuine spirituality -- requires that we strive to put off the fleshly, selfabsorbed kind of thinking which underlies human suffering and which blinds us to the harmony that God is always causing. It's to acknowledge, and to see more and more clearly through prayer and purification of thought, that there is a reality transcending what appears to be reality -- that the actual nature of creation (as theoretical as it may seem to us at the moment) is totally spiritual and totally good, expressing the nature of the creator, perfect Spirit.

This is not to lose anything genuinely good in our lives, to take away any tangible benefit. Rather, it's to bring what is good more clearly and vigorously into view through a heightened sense of God's goodness and of the permanency of His spiritual creation. It's to see that a hardened, worldly consciousness of life, regardless of how normal or pleasurable it may seem at the moment, contains the elements of self-destruction, because matter is changeable; it doesn't endure. A consciousness immersed in the opposite of Spirit, in a preoccupation with fleshly pleasures, for example, needs to yield to a purer sense of life as inseparable from God, who alone is the source of all good. To part with sensuality is not to part with anything worthwhile but to find our needs cared for in wonderfully appropriate ways through God's love.

Why spirituality? Because ultimately we can't avoid it -- and whether we realize it or not, we really want it. Purified thinking is natural, not dull or abnormal. It enriches every aspect of our lives. It brings a lasting, profound joy and a feeling of fulfillment that are in sharp contrast to the deadness of materialized thinking, which leads us away from God, from our very Life. Spirituality is the only answer, regardless of how temporarily alluring sin may claim to be. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``As God Himself is good and is Spirit, goodness and spirituality must be immortal. Their opposites, evil and matter, are mortal error, and error has no creator.''6

To cultivate spirituality is to build for eternity. It is to find ``life and peace,'' even though the journey against the currents of earthly thinking may at times be demanding. It is to glimpse eternal, saving truth, far above the worldly reasoning that assumes one's thoughts or style of life make little difference. They do make a difference, because the God who is Spirit, the one God, demands that we love Him and that we worship Him alone.

1Ecclesiastes 9:2, 3. 2Isaiah 45:22. 3Romans 8:6. 4John 4:24. 5Matthew 6:33. 6Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 277. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

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