Taking a Good Look
WHAT do washing dishes, a construction worker, and the Saviour of the world have in common? It's almost an affront when the question is asked this way. But when we only look at outward appearances we can miss everything that matters. And when we look further than outward appearances, previously invisible things will come into view.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, at one point speaks about taking up ontology, ```the science of real being.''' ``We must look deep into realism,'' she says, ``instead of accepting only the outward sense of things.''1
So, what do washing dishes, a construction worker, and the Saviour of the world have in common? The person washing dishes is a mother. When her children were young, one of the few times she could pray uninterruptedly was while she was washing dishes. Later when she began to help others through her healing practice of Christian Science, household duties remained periods of prayer. The construction worker found Christian Science while he was working his way through school. The hours spent in manual labor became hours spent pondering passages from the Bible and Science and Health that he had read. Eventually he devoted himself to Christian Science healing.
The ``Saviour of the world'' part of the question, of course, is the most central. In the case of the first two people, Christ Jesus' life was at the center of their prayer and study. A merely human, material outlook on life loses sight of the deep, divine reality that can underlie even the most ordinary activities. Material-mindedness will never understand what really moves the mind and heart of spiritually progressive men or women. Where others might see pitiful, diseased, downtrodden men and women, the Master saw something worth saving.
Jesus' disciples wanted to turn away a woman whose daughter was ``grievously'' ill. But she persisted in asking Jesus for mercy, and he gave it, saying, ``O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.''2 Her daughter was healed.
The world gets things backward just as those disciples did. And it takes courage and spiritual-mindedness to break out of this backwardness. But once we begin to see what is real and Godlike, we find our lives revitalized, and our love for others becomes a spiritual liberation. This contradiction between the divinely compelling and the materially dull needs to be understood. Think about the Master's experience on the cross. Spiritually, this was the most profound demonstration of the power of divine Love to save humanity. Yet, from an outward sense of things, Jesus was reduced to the status of a criminal!
For the Master, the mother, and the worker, understanding the spiritual promise and reality that are alive in man makes an all-important connection with the spirituality that gives life to everything because God is the creator of man. This spiritual nature, or reality, is what we are. Even Jesus, who was taken for a rebel, a thief, and someone to be brutally sacrificed, wasn't seen for what he was. But what, or who, he really was, was what prevailed.
We can become ontologists, no longer simply accepting the material, outward sense of things. Man is the image of God, and to understand something of what this means is to enter into a calling -- to be a servant of God. This service will change things and eventually give worth and purpose to our lives.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 129. 2Matthew 15:28.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the October 16, 1989, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.