The scenery was magnificent. I was seated in an open chairlift carrying me into a cloudless blue sky. The air was clean and crisp.
My thought kept returning to a remark I'd heard the evening before. I was one in a group of skiers. At a get-acquainted party, we had been asked to stand and introduce ourselves. I went first, told my name, and sat down. That's the way it went around the room, until a woman gave her name and added, "I was married to a brigadier general." She also said she'd graduated from a prestigious college. Her introduction absolutely flabbergasted me; why would she identify herself in that way -- on the basis of her husband or her alma mater?
I recalled Christ Jesus' statement from the book of John in the Bible, "I and my Father are one" (10:30). That Scripture, understood, is all we need to know about ourselves, about identity.
Christian Science is founded on the teachings of Jesus. It recognizes that God and man are one. True identity is not associated with human things like marriage, scholastic background, one's career -- or a spouse's career. Of themselves these don't lend any substantive worth to an individual. Worth is a quality inherent in each one of us, but only because we are each God's likeness. In this likeness, there is no frail ego, no egotism, no insecurity. To recognize our spiritual identity, our unity with God, is to gain conscious worth and proper self-esteem.
Christian Science, the discovery of Mary Baker Eddy, recognizes a standard for judging worth. It is stated in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Take away wealth, fame, and social organizations, which weigh not one jot in the balance of God, and we get clearer views of Principle. Break up cliques, level wealth with honesty, let worth be judged according to wisdom, and we get better views of humanity" (p. 239).
This clarifies what makes a person "important." Your existence as God's child causes you to be important. Your expression of genuinely good qualities constitutes your purpose and lifework.
Jesus indicated that it is the special quality we call humility that gives stature (see Luke 9:46-48). Whatever impresses us with mere human importance is a stumbling block to the apprehension that we express spiritual qualities and derive our reason for existing from God. While appreciating all that is good in one's accomplishments, one can recognize that his or her talents and abilities have their source in God, and cannot be separate from Him. They are ours by reflection only, and do not belong to one individual to the exclusion of another. The esteem and satisfaction one might feel in a given accomplishment is misguided unless it is referred back to God.
Moreover, personalizing lack of accomplishment is equally unfounded. To improve the concepts we hold of ourselves, we need to start with God. How? We can know ourselves the way God knows of us. He knows only good, so He knows us to be good. The individuality you seek to recognize as your real identity is in your individual expression of God. It is in knowing that we each are expressing God through loving, principled behavior that a sense of fulfillment comes to us. And doesn't this mean that we've got to know God's nature better if we want to know our nature better?
This perception of spiritual identity lay behind the many healings Jesus brought about; it is, in fact, what made his healings possible. We can heal, too. We can perceive who we already are as God's likeness -- perfect, lacking nothing.
The woman who had introduced herself at that party was an important individual -- very important -- but not for the reasons she thought. Her importance was not in the school she attended or in her husband's career. Her identity as a child of God constituted her importance, and it always will. It doesn't get any better than that!
You can find in-depth articles on Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.