DRAMATIC inequities in standards of living are apparent throughout the world. Many struggle daily to eke out basic necessities, while others live lavishly. Those in between may feel distress over those who are impoverished yet also feel deprived and discontented when comparing their lifestyles with those of the wealthy. How can a better standard of living for all be brought about?
If we regard life as essentially a material thing, then ``living standards'' are measured by the quality and quantity of material things. But what about intangible ``things'' -- highly prized qualities like love, integrity, respect?
The real thrust of the Bible turns us radically to a perception of reality as spiritually based. The Bible records that God, Spirit, creates man in His image and likeness, as wholly and only spiritual, as good and blessed with dominion. What a satisfying standard for living! But is it practical to think of man as spiritual? Does viewing life as wholly spiritual mean that humanity's urgent needs can be ignored?
Christ Jesus, who understood so clearly man's spiritual identity, proved how practical this understanding is. On its basis, he raised the standard of living wherever he went, bringing health, supply, moral regeneration, where there had been sickness, lack, and sin. He met the pressing needs of his fellowman through healing based on untiring communion with the one Spirit, God.
Christ Jesus expected his followers to begin to do as he did. While this may seem far beyond what we feel we're capable of now, as we seek to live more fully in accord with the spirit of Jesus' teachings, we can help in many ways to raise the world's standard of living.
A teacher caught some glimpse of this when setting up a small storefront education center in a blighted, inner-city area. He had been learning in Christian Science that, as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.''1
The teacher found that through prayer he was better able to see individuals in the community in this light, whole, as God made them, rather than as simply downtrodden, hopeless, unworthy. He found that this spiritual view strengthened his ability to pursue one of the center's goals: to offer jobs to men and women who might not have been considered ``good prospects.'' People like the man who hadn't been able to hold a steady job elsewhere because of alcoholism. Although there were some trying times after this man began working at the center, gradually he became more reliable. The teacher persisted in affirming man's true, spiritual identity and recognizing as best he could that it is each individual's right to act in accord with his true identity. Eventually the man became a co-director of the center. Later he found a very responsible job at a college near his new home and saw one of his children attend the same college.
Inequity is logically inconsistent with God, who is infinite, all-powerful Love. In reality man lives in God, ever-present good, and is governed only by His supreme law. This is the divine reality, and as we glimpse Spirit's supremacy more clearly, injurious material conditions must increasingly be transformed.
Jesus said, ``I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.''2 Yet he also said, ``A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.''3 Doesn't this indicate that abundant life -- genuine satisfaction -- has its source in Spirit? It follows, then, that by confining our horizons to excessive material consumption, coveting what another has, preoccupying ourselves with amassing material goods, we restrict genuine progress, which must be based on a greater understanding of Spirit.
In truth, however, material-mindedness is foreign to man's genuine, spiritual nature. It's natural for man to express his true nature in qualities like unselfishness and righteousness, so finding the standard of living that truly satisfies.Mrs. Eddy writes, ``Passions, selfishness, false appetites, hatred, fear, all sensuality, yield to spirituality, and the superabundance of being is on the side of God, good.''4
Expressing greater spirituality, greater faithfulness to divine Love, we begin to glimpse that, in reality, each of God's children is fully provided with His love, which truly satisfies and leads to more constructive action. A growing conviction of this divine fact helps turn thought more consistently to infinite Spirit, God, as the sure source of a universally higher standard of living, thus blessing all mankind.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,p. 258. 2John 10:10. 3Luke 12:15. 4Science and Health, p. 201.
You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. BIBLE VERSE: Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.... Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:20, 21, 33