Verifying integrity

TRUST is one of the most essential ingredients in a caring, progressive relationship, whether between individuals or nations. When we feel we have legitimate grounds for not trusting another, relationships are strained and potentially turbulent. The turbulence usually benefits no one. Yet how can we trust when trust seems unwarranted? A Biblical account of apparently legitimate distrust can be helpful. In Acts, chapter 9, we read of Ananias, a follower of Christ Jesus, who was directed to go to a man known to be a persecutor of Christians to heal him of blindness. He responded incredulously to this divine direction: ``Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.'' But the direction stood fast and Ananias obeyed.

Why was Ananias willing to take the risk? It had been revealed to him that Saul, contrary to his reputation, was ``a chosen vessel'' called to preach and heal in the name of Christ. Incredible as this humanly uncorroborated, Christly message must have seemed to Ananias, he was willing to set aside his misgivings and trust God's direction. Thus he was an instrument in the significant transformation of untrustworthy Saul, adversary of Christians, to trustworthy Paul, advocate of Christ.

Aren't we called to do as Ananias did? It's not that we need to trust an un-trustworthy mortal. But if we're to help lift humanity higher in this respect, we need to cultivate greater trust in God's ability to express His divine nature in His offspring. We have to trust that through His power and presence, indeed through His Christ, individuals can become aware of their genuine, God-derived selfhood, which is totally good.

In the Bible we read that our Father, God, is ``a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.''1 Our Father is constantly, unchangeably, just and right. Man, God's spiritual offspring, is heir to nothing less. Man's integrity, his complete correspondence to his creator's nature, is a fact of being. This is the true selfhood we need to discern progressively and trust if we're to help forward progress in this area.

But how are we to verify the existence of this man in place of the one who seems to merit distrust? We can start by appreciating every evidence of integrity we see among our fellow beings, and we can strengthen our own commitment to being trustworthy witnesses of our Father's integrity. We should also recognize that those whose integrity seems questionable have, in truth, the same Father we have. Not that God is the Father of sinful mortals but that everyone's real identity is the very outcome of God. Each one is heir to the same pure nature.

None of this is to suggest that we act foolishly or naively in our relations with others. We need to take legitimate steps to safeguard our own and others' well-being. But if we let those steps grow out of our willingness to acknowledge man's natural integrity, we help provide an atmosphere within which all can discover and ultimately live in accord with integrity.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Evil is sometimes a man's highest conception of right, until his grasp on good grows stronger.'' And she says on the preceding page: ``Saul of Tarsus beheld the way -- the Christ, or Truth -- only when his uncertain sense of right yielded to a spiritual sense, which is always right. Then the man was changed. Thought assumed a nobler outlook, and his life became more spiritual.''2

Perhaps we can assist another in throwing off dishonesty or an ``uncertain sense of right.'' But we can only do so by refining our own concept of man, striving to see more clearly and be more consistently the man of God's creating. We can help advance the day when we find all embraced in the family of God, living peacefully as sisters and brothers.

1Deuteronomy 32:4. 2Science and Health, pp. 327, 326.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Ecclesiastes 7:29

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