LAST summer a relative and I spent some time visiting graveyards, looking for headstones so we could get information on our ancestors. We had a lot of fun on those pleasant summer days. And we found it interesting to speculate about what our ancestors might have been like. After I got back home, I was struck one morning by Christ Jesus' statement in Matthew ``Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.'' It seemed to be asking me if I was thinking of God as my Father or if I was instead simply thinking of myself as the outcome of a whole network of human beings who stretched back through time to our proverbial ancestors Adam and Eve!
As a Christian, I had often pondered Jesus' teachings about our relationship to our human parents and our relationship to God. And I had come to see that while our families are important, we can find the greatest happiness when we relate to them in terms of our spiritual relationship to God. In other words, instead of thinking of ourselves as the outcome of materiality, we can all relate to our Father in heaven, just as Jesus told us to.
And since God is Spirit, it follows that in our true nature we must all be spiritual because we are His children. Looking at ourselves from this spiritual basis can really bring about a great change in our lives and bring greater happiness to our families. It can set us free from inherited tendencies or from a checkered past. For instance, if our human family has been a bit on the shady side of the law, our prayers can help to free us from believing we're stuck with repeating the same mistakes.
Since our most important relationship is to God, our Father, it follows that each of us has the spiritual resources to live in accord with God's law -- to be honest, good, and true. And since God loves all His children, no one can actually be cut off from His goodness -- even if he or she isn't acknowledging God's care.
Sometimes the good that comes from understanding our relationship to God may be in the form of a clearer sense of God's presence in our lives or of an increased ability to express His qualities by being more loving or making more intelligent decisions. Other times this consciousness of God's presence and goodness may help us to overcome physical illness or other trouble. It also sets us free from material beliefs that would limit our abilities or that would darken our appreciation for the love within our families.
I saw this very clearly during the time when I was thinking about my relationship to my ancestors in terms of my relationship to God. While this research was historically and personally interesting to me, I saw that I needed to reject any belief that I was a mortal with a whole history of material inheritances. Otherwise, I would be allowing myself to be vulnerable to whatever hereditary illness had been associated with my family at one point or another.
This is where a deeper understanding of man as being fully spiritual helped me individually and in my prayers about my family. And this knowledge can help you too. The belief that we are material and the outcome of a long line of material beings tends to tie us -- and our families -- into a life in matter. This life is one that is subject to sickness, breakdown, moral weakness, and a host of other troubles. In this mental and physical environment, heredity has substantial influence.
But if we are actively living in accord with Spirit, God, we are not accepting those limitations for ourselves or others. We are, in fact, demanding that our lives rest on the basis of God's, not heredity's, law. God's law, being the law of good, of Love, puts us into a completely spiritual environment. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Heredity is a prolific subject for mortal belief to pin theories upon; but if we learn that nothing is real but the right, we shall have no dangerous inheritances, and fleshly ills will disappear.''
This disappearance of ``fleshly ills'' comes about as we pray to understand that we do not live in matter but in Spirit. We prove this by giving up whatever would materialize our thoughts and lives. For instance, we need to give up anger, hatred, jealousy, selfishness, malice, sensualism. These and other material characteristics are the basis of disease because they deny our true nature as God's children. In place of them we need to actively express divine qualities such as love, peace, purity, intelligence, and goodness. When we do this, we are affirming our spirituality and we are also bringing more harmony into our lives.
So when someone says that you have a bad temper ``just like your father,'' or are scatterbrained ``just like your mother,'' take a minute to stop and think about which heritage you want to accept for yourself and for those you love. As God's child, you and your parents can know the freedom from fear that God's love gives. And as the offspring of Mind, God, you can have the peace and order of God's government. Such spiritual facts heal and help alleviate family pressures and problems.
Whatever limitations we may feel are imposed on us by heredity can be eliminated as we accept our relationship to God and the power of His goodness. Through prayer, we learn of our own inseparability from God and find that this relationship embraces our families as well. Then, as we climb our family trees, we will be able to find the good heritage that God has given each of us throughout time.