Aiming Higher

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Instead of nodding off for a nap, the carpoolers found themselves in a lively session of Monday morning quarterbacking. Only it wasn't the big game they were intent on, but the office place (in particular their own) and the churches.

In the office, they wanted to see more order, structure, coordination, and efficiency. But in church, they wanted just the opposite. Services ought to be more informal and lively; maybe there should be chair circles rather than pews in straight lines; wouldn't some new types of music be nice?

The bottom line they settled on was that nothing would ever change if people didn't get involved and start doing better as individuals. Seeing what should be done is relatively easy. Rolling up our sleeves and doing it is something else.

If we all aim much higher - if every one of us aims for perfection moment by moment - there will be less and less to gripe about. But I'm not talking about perfectionism, which is often just the bad habit of fussiness, of criticizing rather than appreciating. No, I'm talking about our aiming for spiritual perfection.

Christ Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). His teaching shows what he meant by that, encouraging that we love our enemies and our neighbors, that we be meek, merciful, spiritually-minded, and honest, that we yearn for righteousness. That we worship God, do good to those who hate us, not commit adultery (or even think about doing it), not be angry, not take revenge. And that we do go the extra mile, being peacemakers, being "pure in heart." None of this starts with pews and portfolios, job descriptions and stained glass. It all starts with doing what's spiritually right, with acting as the child of God.

Indeed, the very first chapter of the Bible points out that we are created as the very "image and likeness" of God. This means we already have perfection! We do not have to strive to create it ourselves. We can live what we've been created to be - and moreover learn to discern perfection in others.

Getting started may mean having to put off a few bad habits like being apathetic, placing blame on others, procrastinating, thinking cynically. We'll just have to wake up one fine morning and begin! But experience has shown that this motive to make the world a better place is blessed; that by perfecting our own actions, we find God is right there to support and strengthen us. Aiming higher does make a difference.

I can't help but think of the Apostle Paul (see Acts, Chap. 9). He persecuted Christians right and left, from the best of motives; he thought he was preserving true religion. But the presence of Christ, speaking to Paul's consciousness, revealed God's grand design of salvation for all mankind. Immediately, Paul rolled up his sleeves and got to work - for Christ. And so, several early Christian churches were started by Paul. Much enduring good came from this one man's willingness to get started at doing better himself. The Bible doesn't show Paul discussing his former business ventures or worrying about the seating arrangements in church. But it does show that he and his followers loved and cared for each other - and healed people everywhere they went.

Paul called the evil force that tries to interfere with humanity's good "the carnal mind" (Rom. 8:7). It is made up of thoughts that don't relate to God. They pose as our own mistaken thoughts. And we can put these negative, deceiving, critical, sick thoughts out of consciousness. We can cultivate our natural ability to reflect what God is - Truth, Life, Love - through thoughts and actions that are truthful, lively, loving. The woman who discovered Christian Science wrote: "The substance of all devotion is the reflection and demonstration of divine Love, healing sickness and destroying sin. Our Master said, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments' "(Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 241).

Following God means, more than anything else, beginning with ourselves. Nothing can stop us from aiming to serve Him. Nothing can stop us from aiming to be - and being - Godlike. As more of us do this more consistently, the office, church, home, nation, will be perfected!

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