Only The Carpenter's Son?
WE know him. His family lives right here. That's what the hometown folks thought about this native son. When Jesus returned to his own country, preaching and healing, the response was not enthusiastic. "Is not this the carpenter's son? people asked skeptically as they listened to him. Perhaps they just couldn't understand how someone they remembered as having an ordinary upbringing could say and do the remarkable things that he did.Is someone coming home to you? Or are you returning home somewhere? If so, the visit will be happiest if everyone's progress and growth is recognized and appreciated. Everyone wants to have his or her maturity recognized and appreciated. In Christ Jesus' case, of course, he was not just the carpenter's son. He acknowledged God as his Father. His life illustrated clearly that man is in reality the child of God. Yet Jesus was unique and special. His virgin birth and his resurrection showed that man is spiritual in being and nature because God, the divine Spirit, creates him in His likeness. And Jesus' understanding of man's genuine nature enabled him to heal sickness and sin. Perhaps, in Jesus' case, many of the people of Nazareth just couldn't accept that he really was the Son of God because they were sure they already knew him. But because of his teaching and work, we today have these God-sent truths of who we are as God's children to support us. Whether we are returning home or someone dear is visiting us, the love of the Father-Mother God is the most important factor in the visit. In truth, though it's sometimes not recognized, it is this divine Love, God, which go es and comes with all of us, guiding us and governing our lives. There is a touching New Testament story that underscores for me how God's guidance enables us to recognize and appreciate others' spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul finds a willing student Onesimus, a slave from the house of Philemon. When the time comes for Onesimus to return to his master, Paul has come to love Onesimus deeply and to depend on his help. His letter to Philemon urges the recognition of Onesimus's spiritual maturity: "For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her Miscellaneous Writings of Jesus' unique expression of the Christ: "This spiritual idea, or Christ, entered into the minuti of the life of the personal Jesus. It made him an honest man, a good carpenter, and a good man, before it could make him the glorified. Although Jesus is no longer present on the earth, Christ remains because Christ is the spiritual idea, not subject to birth, death, or mutability. The God-sent Christ is always at work changing thought--yours and mine--and promoting the spiritual growth of each individual. Real, spiritual growth occurs as we better understand God and ourselves in His likeness. And such growth Spiritward makes us into "good carpenters--good men and women. Most important, Christ helps each of us understand more and more of our own standing with our Father-Mother God as His spiritual offspring. Then, whichever end of a homecoming we are on, we'll find an abundance of the genuine love and warmth that recognizes individual spiritual progress.