Responsible Parent, Responsive Child

SOCIETY is rightly giving much attention these days to finding better ways to care for children. Disease, poverty, frustration, undereducation, gangs, and drugs are just some of the more vivid forces that make children seem fragile and vulnerable. The task of being a responsible parent and raising a child to be responsive to good can feel daunting to say the least. But it is possible. Indeed, Christian Science shows how we can learn to rely on God's spiritual care in very practical ways -- everything from simply having joy in the home to healing serious physical suffering. In fact, whenever I was sick or injured as a child, it always seemed like the most natural thing in the world to turn to God for healing. As Christian Scientists, our family members have depended on God's care to meet our needs and challenges for several generations. I had heard about or seen my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents healed of serious illnesses. So, for me, prayerfully turning to God during a crisis was as instinctive as turning to medicine was for my friends.

I remember once when I was eight years old, my hand was injured when my brother accidentally slammed the door of our station wagon on it. Interestingly, what I remember most isn't the pain or how badly the hand was injured, but the concern and the love that my parents showed. They comforted me and assured me that God was right there with me. I have a wonderfully warm and vivid memory of sitting in that parking lot, being held by my mother, and truly feeling that God would indeed heal me. I certainly didn't wonder whether my parents were doing enough to care for me. I felt loved.

I don't know the specific content of my parents' prayers in that particular case, but I do know they were based on an understanding that divine Love, God, is all-powerful and that the power of God's love harmoniously governs His creation, man. And I know that their prayers were effective.

This is one of many examples of what it felt like to grow up in a home where God was relied on to meet everyday needs. And as nice as it was to have our needs met and our hurts soothed, the most important thing was that we didn't feel afraid of life. Christian Science taught us, in the most fundamental way, that God was literally our Father-Mother, that He was literally our Life. To glimpse something of the actuality of this fact is to begin to regard life more spiritually.

In other words, as we come to understand that Spirit, God, has made man in His image, we realize that everything about our true identity must be spiritual. We discover that only those qualities which reflect the likeness of God truly belong to us. This means we also have God-given dominion over any condition or thought that would try to distort who we are. So we don't need to assent passively to sin, sickness, or disease. We can reject them as unreal.

In many ways, prayer is a matter of insisting that our own perfection as God's creation come to light. Because our perfect, spiritual identity is the only actual individuality we have, prayer that acknowledges this fact has the power to uncover and destroy whatever is false about God's man. This is healing. And the more our lives already express Godlike qualities such as honesty, purity, joy, and love, the more natural this becomes.

The result is that we inevitably experience increased purpose, health, and peace. In a sense you could say that we discover the wholeness, or completeness, of God's care by discovering the wholeness of His spiritual creation, man. Christian Science explains that what is actually being discovered -- or revealed -- is man's spiritual sense, which enables us to know and to experience God's love in tangible ways. As the Bible puts it, ``The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.''1

Of course, the fact that our own identity is spiritual implies that the same is true of others as well. This was certainly evident in the life of Christ Jesus. As the Son of God, he never lost sight of his own spiritual, true being. At the same time, Christ -- the spiritual idea of divine Love he presented -- was just as evident in his love of others and in his recognition of their genuine nature. Speaking of Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains: ``He spake of man not as the offspring of Adam, a departure from God, or His lost likeness, but as God's child. Spiritual love makes man conscious that God is his Father, and the consciousness of God as Love gives man power with untold furtherance.''2

Deeper Christian experience will bring increasing evidence of just how reasonable and practical it is to rely on God's spiritual love to care for the needs of all God's children, whether young or old. Deeper spiritual love will awaken all of us to our own spiritual sense, which has dominion over sin and sickness. The result will be a society with less fear and more love, with fewer doubts about spiritual healing and more of a hunger for it.

1Romans 8:16, 17. 2Message to The Mother Church for 1902, pp. 8-9.

BIBLE VERSE: I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Exodus 15:26

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