THEY wanted to know my name and birth date. They asked the color of my eyes, my weight and height; they gave me a medical exam; and of course they wanted to know where I lived and worked. I asked myself, Is this really me? I felt a kinship with all the other people who were filling out forms, having their fingerprints and photographs taken. In spite of the differences in our outward appearances, we all had one thing in common--we were men and women seeking permission to live and work in a country different from that of our origin. This experience made me think much more deeply about the subject of identity. Is our personal appearance--the flesh, blood, and brain that a chemist or doctor can analyze--really "us? Surely there is a much deeper measurement of man. The Bible tells us of man as created by God and says that man is God's image and likeness. Wouldn't this imply that man, reflecting God, who is Spirit, is not the material being he is so commonly taken to be? He would be as infinite as his Maker, divine Spirit. In real ity, then, God's man could not be confined, or defined by the material senses; he would be as unlimited and ageless as God, the great I AM. Christ Jesus lived on the basis of understanding his spiritual identity to be the Son of God. He acknowledged God as his Father and rejected the view that he was just one more mortal who began in the flesh. John's Gospel records his saying, "I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Jesus brought to light man's spiritual selfhood in God's likeness. He fully lived the Christ, the true idea of God. The Saviour's example helps us to discover the truth of our own bei ng as we live in obedience to God's will. When we look to God to find our spiritual identity, we become increasingly aware of our dependence on Him for the intelligence and wisdom we need to carry out our work. The more we identify ourselves in these spiritual terms and see ourselves as reflecting the one I AM, or Ego, the more we find that our capabilities are derived solely from an infinite source--from God Himself. Material personality, with its sensual pleasures and selfish egotism, begins to fade before the sheer reality of man's spiritua l identity, forever at one with God, the source of all good. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, built the Church of Christ, Scientist, on the Master's foundation of Christ-healing. She writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The one Ego, the one Mind or Spirit called God, is infinite individuality, which supplies all form and comeliness and which reflects reality and divinity in individual spiritual man and things. It takes patience, courage, and persistence to lay aside the picture of ourselves as flesh and bones and replace it with the Christly view of man as God's perfect, spiritual reflection. But we help ourselves and our fellowman immeasurably when in our prayers we penetrate the facade that mortal thought presents of man as material and hold to the reality of man's true stature in God's likeness. It truly is possible to gain an inspired sense that lets in the light of Christ, Truth, and practical healing follows. I eventually got the needed permit, and I moved toward a clearer recognition that the children of God are truly citizens of the kingdom of God. People can never be fully understood by worldly criteria, such as country of origin, ancestry, or personal appearance. Man's true identity and worth can only be gauged by the infinite good that God expresses in him.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the May 6 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.