What's Really In It for Us
DURING the last week of summer vacation this year, I found myself in a running conversation with my son about his upcoming school year. He was very anxious. I was eager to ease the anxiety. But all my efforts to soothe him were useless until I said what I really felt. "You are very special, I said. "And you have a real contribution to make to your school and your class this year. We can't be sure now just what that contribution is, but it is something only you can give.To my surprise, this affirmation helped my son more than all the attempts at soothing. He responded, and his school year got off to a fine start. And best of all, this "contribution idea has provided a guiding theme that we can return to time and again. Of course, this isn't an unusual idea. Perhaps Christ Jesus expressed it most clearly in the Bible. He taught that we find the highest joy in service to God, which includes doing good to our fellowman. Once, John's Gospel records, in response to his disciples' urging him to eat, Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Isn't this a direct indication that Jesus knew that we, too, can learn to find our joy and satisfaction in being obedient to God? This is just the opposite of the what's-in-it-for-me thrust of conventional thinking. Yet Jesus' teaching and example are undeniably logical once we look deeply into the nature of God and of the man He creates. Since God is divine Love, His work is actually Love expressing itself. Sometimes, even the best human love seeks appreciation, recognition, affection, as a return. God, divine Love itself, is complete and needs no incentive for what He does naturally. As the Bible so aptly says, "Behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. If God works this way (and He surely does!), then the man that He creates is like Him. That is, man reflects the nature of his creator; man is spiritual because God is Spirit. Man is not God, of course, but he is God's image. This has great bearing on this notion of "self. From Day One, the commonly accepted idea is that each one has a biological and psychological "self separate from God. But if we accept the truth of man in God's likeness, we discover that our own real identity can be found only in divine Spirit. As we work to express more of our spiritual identity in our thought and actions every day, we'll find ourselves asking "What's in it for me? less often. When we begin thinking this spiritual way, we are coming into line with the way things operate in God's kingdom. There is real power in such thinking, as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power. Unselfed love is what motivates our best actions. What's in it for us? Real happiness, for one thing. Don't we see every day examples of unhappiness that can be traced directly to pursuing selfish interests? Mrs. Eddy points to the rewards of unselfish living in Science and Health when she says, "Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity,--these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence. God creates each one unique and special, and He provides the ways for each one's individual contribution to make itself felt. There is great happiness in doing the work necessary to make our own contribution. This is what really is in it for us!