A VISIT to the neighborhood bookstore or a look at the bestseller lists confirms that the public has a continuing interest in books that give insights into the role of spirituality in daily life. If we look into them, one thing may be surprising. While they tend to emphasize the Golden Rule Christians are familiar with from Matthew's Gospel in the Bible, ''All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them'' (7:12), their spirituality is often anchored in various forms of psychology and New Age and Eastern religious philosophies.
This certainly emphasizes the diversity in mankind's current spiritual searching. But the question for many is, Does Christianity have relevance today? Can it prove itself to be practical?-for this seems to be an underlying ingredient that many are looking for.
As I study the Gospels, it's hard to think of anything more relevant to the issues of interpersonal relations, establishing one's own identity, finding the purpose of life, overcoming illness, and most important, developing a deep and sure sense of God's power and presence-than the teachings of Christ Jesus. Ironically, theology sometimes obscures Jesus' actual teachings, and their practical spiritual impact is lost.
For example, theologians have argued for centuries over the question ''Who was Jesus?'' But their answers are puzzling. They are not as direct as the Apostle Peter's, which we find in Matthew's Gospel: ''Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'' (16:16). Many have found that doctrinal answers do little to comfort those who are in trouble or to relieve them from sickness or to lift them out of want.
To find the practical help and power of Christianity, it's important to turn back to the Bible and read it for ourselves and to seek out its spiritual meaning. Gaining the spiritual sense of the Scriptures is essential to progress.
Many people have found Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, a great help. It turns one directly to the Scriptures and presents the possibility of experiencing the healing power of Christ in one's life today. Mrs. Eddy points out in Science and Health, ''Divine Science derives its sanction from the Bible, and the divine origin of Science is demonstrated through the holy influence of Truth in healing sickness and sin'' (p. 146).
People often seem to be looking for something that works as a bridge between what happens in church and what happens at home. They don't want those to be two separate realms-and they shouldn't be. In a similar vein, people want the sense of God's power and presence that they feel in church or when they study and pray to be equally strong and evident while at work or at home.
In this light, the following comments by someone who had been healed of deafness by reading Science and Health are noteworthy: ''That for which I am, however, most grateful, is the daily help it is to me in my household of young children. I am sure if mothers only knew what Christian Science truly means they would give all they possess to know it. We have seen croup, measles, fever, and various other children's complaints, so-called, disappear like dew before the morning sun, through the application of Christian Science,-the understanding of God as ever-present and omnipotent. It has been proven to me without a doubt that God is a very present help in trouble, and what a blessed help this wonderful truth is in the training of our children, and how quickly the child grasps it'' (p. 636).
This statement is from the last chapter of Science and Health, called ''Fruitage,'' which recounts the wonderful ways that a revived sense of Christianity and its practical power has transformed people's lives. Science and Health can resurrect our appreciation of the practicality of Christianity in daily life.