MY friend had been a passenger on a commercial airliner that had crashed on landing. She, along with many other passengers, had escaped safely. Because I knew she turned to God in every emergency, I later asked her if she had thought about God while leaving the plane. She said that at the time there was so much going on, she really didn't have time to think about God but she felt the presence of God in that she quickly did the right things. And she mentioned the orderliness that had governed the evacuati on.
After our conversation, I found myself pondering what she'd said. I realized that it's not always thinking about God that counts, so much as it is being what God is thinking. Thinking and learning about God are a very necessary part of Christian living. But we must never let "thinking about" God substitute for the active "being" of His expression, His likeness. If we were satisfied simply to think about God, we would be accepting the false view that we are separate mortals looking up at a faraway God. Th e reality is that we are one with Him as His idea, as the very evidence of His selfhood.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, uses an analogy of the sun and its sunbeams to convey the idea of man's oneness with God. She says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God. If we think of God as the sun and of ourselves, His idea man, as sunbeams, then we see that we must be the very radiance of God Himself. We are what He is, although we are not Him. We are the brightness of His shining, the song that He sings, the smile of His heart. We are because He is. This is why the Bible says that man is the likeness of God.
Mrs. Eddy also tells us, in her book Retrospection and Introspection: "The sun sends forth light, but not suns; so God reflects Himself, or Mind, but does not subdivide Mind, or good, into minds, good and evil. You and I are that light of Mind that He imparts; and because we have Him, have infinite Mind, as our source, we are capable of tremendous and unbounded good.
In my friend's experience, where poise and clear thinking were necessary to save lives, God's presence was seen in the behavior of passengers who quickly and efficiently got out of the plane and helped others to do so. During that hurried time, being God's expression--not thinking about God--was what saved the day.
The well-known parable of the good Samaritan, found in Luke's Gospel, illustrates this concept of being God's expression. The Levite and the priest may both have done a lot of thinking about God's law, yet they "passed by on the other side" when they saw the injured traveler who needed help. It was the despised Samaritan who lived his understanding of the nature of God by being kind and helpful to the injured man. His actions were more than just thinking about God, and they blessed the one in need.
It is our spiritual sense, our recognition of Christ in consciousness, that shows us how to be the image and likeness of God. As we strive to obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, which are the Bible's inspired rules for living, we find our actions conforming more and more to that which is good, untainted by shadows of self-interest, fear, deceit. We find adequate time for seeking and learning about God, and we also find that we have the opportunity to put into practice what we have lear ned--twenty-four hours a day!
God needs each one of us to express Him, just as the sun needs the sunbeam. After all, our purpose, like that of the sunbeam, is to shine. But it is God who does the shining for us; we do our part by reflecting Him!