DOESN'T it sometimes feel that too many obligations are battling for our time and attention? An obvious way out of the burden may seem to be to cut down on some of these obligations. Yet that isn't always possible--and that's not necessarily what's needed.
The Bible teaches that God gives man dominion over all things. If we are not feeling the natural freedom of man's divinely bestowed dominion, what we probably require is a less material sense of our commitments. It may appear as though the demands we face come from our boss, our family, or from other people in our church and community. In reality, though, there is no genuine demand on us apart from God's demand on us to love those within the context of our workplace, home, church, and community. This claim on us can never be too great, since it is inseparable from its source, God, who supplies with any demand all the Christian qualities of affection, warmth, patience, compassion, and care that are required to fulfill it.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, points out in Miscellaneous Writings: ``The Principle of Christianity is infinite: it is indeed God; and this infinite Principle hath infinite claims on man, and these claims are divine, not human; and man's ability to meet them is from God; for, being His likeness and image, man must reflect the full dominion of Spirit--even its supremacy over sin, sickness, and death'' (p. 16). These ``infinite claims on man'' aren't truly competing for attention with any other claims. Whatever is demanded by God can never be a demand or series of demands that we are unable to meet, because ``man's ability to meet them is from God.'' Inadequacy, therefore, is not legitimate to man. The Apostle Paul explains why in his second letter to the Christians of Corinth. He writes, ``God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work'' (9:8).
Christ Jesus, in his mighty mission of healing, powerfully proved the abundance of God's grace that Paul speaks of. And Paul's words assure us today that we, too, can meet any combination of daily duties with the assurance that comes through prayer and Christian living. By prayerfully knowing the exclusivity of God's claim upon us, we will bring to light the harmonious order of events in our experience. And we will be able to meet legitimate demands.
I experienced this myself one day. I had promised to deliver something to a friend, and it seemed that the only time to do so was when I should have been at church. As I was leaving home determined to honor the commitment I had made to my friend, I was arrested by the thought that attending church was also a duty that I needed to honor, a divine demand. So I paused, and prayed. As I did so, a new way that I hadn't previously thought of to fulfill the promise I'd made to my friend came to mind. This way enabled me both to honor that obligation and to attend church. The two demands had never really been in competition. Both were acts of good, demands of God, and could not in truth clash!
As we identify our activities more and more spiritually, as derived from a love for God and man, we will find that He supplies all that is required to meet those divine demands. To bear witness to this is to recognize and enjoy more and more of God's deep claim on us to know and experience man's spiritual sonship. This is the infinite claim that God has on our thoughts, hearts, and lives. To satisfy it brings the greatest possible freedom.