The Relevance of Church

A POSTER hanging on a church wall in East Germany reads, ``Man does not live by money alone.'' It is a potent reminder of Jesus' teaching that man's life is not dependent primarily on material things, but on God. Church has been a powerful force in the recent history of East Germany. A main catalyst in the ``quiet revolution,'' the church has aroused people to a recognition of their rights as free individuals. As is evident from this poster hanging in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, church continues to minister to peoples' needs.

Why does an institution as old as this one have relevance in every age? Isn't it because the spiritual effect of church is deeper and farther-reaching than individual buildings or congregations? When church is the outgrowth of genuine, spiritual religion, it uplifts human consciousness by offering mankind the timeless Biblical truths that answer contemporary problems.

Though Mary Baker Eddy's religious experience grew out of her early associations with local Christian churches, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science went further and insisted that church should heal all types of trouble and ills. She and the other early students of Christian Science voted, as the Manual of The Mother Church records, ``To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.''

Understood on this basis, church is relevant because it heals. Sorrows are lessened, fears quieted. God becomes tangible in daily affairs. All this happens because the Word of God educates human thought to a new understanding of divine Life, God.

At times when I've been worried about events in my city or country, a church service has often changed my perspective and made me more solution-oriented. I have also been physically healed by the inspiration gained in church. Once, for example, the confidence I felt that God is universal Love released me from pain. But even that healing was not as wonderful as the increased closeness to God I had gained.

At the base of all that church does is the spiritual fact that God is infinite good and nothing can contradict His realness and power. An equally important part of the message that church gives the world is that man is the incorporeal likeness of Mind, God, and is the inheritor of spiritual freedom and well-being.

Uniting with others in worshiping God has given me a whole new understanding of what a congregation can mean to its community. Our local churches wouldn't be much without the people who live Jesus' teachings. When we follow what we know of Christ Jesus' example, however, the benefits to our families, our neighbors, our fellow countrymen, and the entire world can be ongoing and unlimited. On the other hand, preaching without practice -- or the blindness of ritual religion without the unction of the Holy Spirit -- is destructive to moral integrity. Sincerity, persistence, brotherly love, and even self-denial, can't be strangers to us if we wish to heal the problems that come up in life. As the writer of the First Epistle to Timothy said, ``Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.''

Church will always remain relevant, because healing is relevant. Because genuine Church is providing spiritual nourishment to mankind, it will continue to be the most important influence for good in the lives of individuals and nations.

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