LIFE is an ongoing classroom experience. One's formal education may be ended, but the learning never stops. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Earth's preparatory school must be improved to the utmost.''1 Spiritual understanding is what needs cultivating, in line with the recommendation in Proverbs, ``Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.''2 An understanding of God, Spirit, and of our actual selfhood as His spiritual image is the most important knowledge we can acquire. Why? Because even a little of this understanding can bring healing through a clearer sense of God's power and of our genuine individuality, which is always whole and blessed. Such understanding is the very basis of our salvation.
Learning too that God is Life and that man reflects this Life in activity, freedom, energy, progress, and uninterrupted well-being strengthens us and enlarges our capacities. Learning that God is Love and that man expresses this Love helps to increase and widen our expression of love. An understanding of God as the very Principle of our being helps to establish law and order in our experience, helps to instill a sense of purpose as we go about our daily tasks.
God is infinite, All-in-all, and a clear understanding of Him can involve a lifetime of study, hours of prayer, and moments of inspiration. But just as the child in school puts into immediate practice what he is learning, we can benefit, through practice, from what we're learning each day. Every spiritual insight gained concerning the nature of God and His creation has a present and practical application. For instance, a single Bible passage, such as ``Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them,''3 can be a wonderful help in our daily circumstances. There's healing impact in the realization that God's law is in operation right now, so nothing can offend us -- nothing can irritate, provoke, annoy, attack, or hurt our feelings. No pitfalls can obstruct our progress.
Mrs. Eddy ordained the Bible, together with her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as the permanent pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist. Along with many others throughout the world, I have turned to this pastor and teacher for help so many times in my life -- once, for instance, when I became very ill on a transcontinental train trip -- and never have I failed to receive the spiritual message, the healing truth, that met my need.
Whatever our age or circumstance, we can learn from God's lessons. The everrelevant and irrevocable Commandments, which are the very essence of the moral law, inevitably lead us to Christ Jesus, who so lovingly fulfilled that law. What a privilege to be able figuratively to sit at the feet of the Master in the classroom of the Christ anytime we elect to turn to the Scriptures!
If we are fully to utilize and benefit from ``earth's preparatory school'' and learn the needed spiritual lessons, why try to skip school, chafe under the discipline of the classroom, or long for more recesses or vacations from the learning process? Our Father loves us and has provided only good for us. But to discover and prove this we need to grow up spiritually and learn what we really are, learn that our true selfhood is His perfect reflection, His eternal manifestation. Like school exams that measure a student's understanding and progress, the tests of human life afford opportunity to measure our trust in God, divine Love, and our understanding of His nearness and power. Tests challenge us to claim the courage, strength, wisdom, perseverance, and other God-derived qualities that are inherently ours.
We have the God-given ability to do whatever it is right and needful for us to do. To find this out and increasingly put it into practice, why not respond to that insistent summons to ``get understanding''? The school bell rings for us all.
1Science and Health, p. 486. 2Proverbs 4:7. 3Psalms 119:165.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Proverbs 3:13