An ancient tale I read in this newspaper triggered my imagination. A man looks up to the heavens and says, "God, there's so much suffering, why don't you send somebody down to help us?"
"I did send somebody down," God replies. "I sent you" (December 15, 2000).
It's one of those unexpected answers that forces you to pause and wonder. In particular, I wondered how the conversation might have gone if the parable had continued. Here's one scenario:
The man (looking around to see who God could possibly be addressing): "You sent me? What can I do about hunger, violence, poverty, incurable diseases, drug addiction?"
God: "Well, who do you think could help?"
The man: "It would have to be someone brilliant. Someone with vast wisdom, energy, and love. Someone vested with Your power."
God: "And who do you think you are?"
The man: "Come on! I'm barely keeping it together. I need help myself."
God (looking around to see who the man could possibly be describing): "What a case of mistaken identity! Let Me tell you how I made you and the rest of My creation."
And that's where the inspired Word continues the conversation. The Bible reveals a reality beyond what's physically observable, but which has power to transform life on earth. It describes a glorious creation living together in peace, content, without fear, not subject to ruin. It describes God's servant as a paragon of wisdom and compassion, who won't fail, quit, or even be discouraged as he brings this perfection to light on earth and sweeps away suffering.
For Christians, of course, this Saviour is Jesus Christ. His incomparable love and healing power still point the way for humanity out of suffering. In a very significant sense, though, the Bible's references to God's servant also apply to each of us. We're all "sent" by God, because everything real issues from the infinite Spirit. "Thou [God] sendest forth thy spirit, they are created," a psalm says (104:30). Each identity emanates from Spirit the way light and warmth emanate from an eternal flame.
Like the man who converses with God, lots of us often have a hard time seeing ourselves as coming from perfect Spirit. We feel so much more mundane than that at times, lacking grace, self-absorbed, body-bound. And that's why Jesus' references to his divine source and his example of living in accord with God are so important. They remind us that we, too, emanate from perfection. Jesus often said he was sent by God. When people tried to pin a merely mortal origin on him, he said that he came from and was one with the Father in heaven. And that his source was also our source.
The Founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, discovered the essence of this oneness. She wrote: "The spiritual man's consciousness and individuality are reflections of God. They are the emanations of Him who is Life, Truth, and Love. Immortal man is not and never was material, but always spiritual and eternal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 336).
Mrs. Eddy's writing and teaching emphasized the practical healing power of correct, spiritual self-identification. Each of us truly is the reflection of God, and the more we identify ourselves this way, the more light we bring to humanity. Not that God sees a suffering world and sends some wise person to help. But the divine Love emits love - and truth and wisdom - through the enlightened consciousness of individuals. This divine light is felt in the world. Like the warmth from a flame, it comforts people. It guides society in better directions. Even more, it reforms characters and heals bodies by revealing the unchanging love of God that overrules and heals suffering.
So continue the conversation with your Maker. Let God show you who you are and how you can help the world.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor