I GREW up in Rome and had been raised to revere the relics of its ancient past. I was therefore astonished when an exchange student told me he would much rather see a modern skyscraper than tour ``old ruins.'' He was more interested in admiring the modern feats of human ingenuity that I had somehow learned to deplore. Clearly, our different viewpoints had been conditioned by our backgrounds. Shakespeare once wrote, ``There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.'' Does this mean everything -- from aesthetic concerns to moral values -- is just a matter of conditioning? Is there no absolute standard for determining whether something is truly good or bad, beautiful or ugly, right or wrong? As an adolescent I struggled with these questions.
If we are looking for a standard by which to live, it's not to be found in the changeable universe of human perceptions. The standard we need is a spiritual one, and it is discerned by man's innate spiritual sense, which we all have to tell us what is right and wrong, good and bad.
Christ Jesus has told us, as Luke records, ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.'' We can start our search for God by trusting our own intuition to show us what is good and right. Anything that turns our lives toward goodness will lead us to Truth, God. And we will get answers that show us how to find God, as the following account illustrates.
Irina Ratushinskaya, a human-rights activist and former Soviet prisoner, said in an interview, ``...my relationship with God was hidden, a secret. I didn't know how to talk to God. I believe it was rather childish talk -- just asking plenty of questions. I didn't hear voices, but I noticed, very soon, that the answer would come. Sometimes from a book, which I happened to pick up, sometimes from adult talks, sometimes it was just a feeling. But I knew God replied to me.''1
Turning to God and finding that He exists, that He cares for us, is the most wonderful discovery an individual can make. It turns our lives around. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Unity of Good: ``To gain a temporary consciousness of God's law is to feel, in a certain finite human sense, that God comes to us and pities us; but the attainment of the understanding of His presence, through the Science of God, destroys our sense of imperfection, or of His absence, through a diviner sense that God is all true consciousness; and this convinces us that, as we get still nearer Him, we must forever lose our own consciousness of error.''
One does not need a lot of learning to experience the blessings of understanding God's presence. Early in my study of Christian Science, I severely injured my ankle while dancing. Instead of calculating how long this injury would lay me up, I thought of what I was learning about God. I knew that injury is not God's will. I could see that I didn't need to accept the injury and suffering.
I was praying even as I hobbled to my seat. Shortly afterward, in response to the music, I jumped up. And as I did so, all thought of the injury disappeared. The next morning there was nothing to indicate the injury of the previous evening. The healing had been quick and complete.
There is great good in store for those who are seeking God. We can begin finding Him today!
1Christianity Today, December 15, 1989.