"Progress is the law of God," stated Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper. She went on to say, "whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 233).
Reading the Bible through from beginning to end, one sees a definite progression in humankind's ideals and behavior. While searching for an explanation for why this is so, I came across the statement quoted above and recognized evidence that the law that governs us, God's law, not only assures progress but also demands it.
My husband often said, "There is no status quo; we are either going forward or backward." And recently a friend said as she laughed, "All the progress I've ever made is from mistakes." This suggests that we cannot backslide if we learn from our mistakes and thus move forward.
My friend also pointed out that we need to continually keep learning, because if we rely only on what we already know now, we'll keep making the same mistakes. This reminded me of a childhood experience.
Midway through first grade, I was moved to second grade. The first day, there were subtraction problems on the blackboard. I had never heard of subtraction while in first grade, so I copied down the problems and added the numbers. A great red mark was slashed through each problem, and my paper was graded with a zero.
Recalling this simple but heart-rending incident, I understood my friend's words that we need to keep learning in order to avoid making the same mistakes.
Seeking a knowledge of God, so that our lives will be governed by divine impulsion, is the way of progress. And a progressive life, far beyond just giving personal satisfaction, is of value to the world.
Much of our spiritual learning is intuitive and comes from a deep desire to know God and serve Him. It involves subduing self-will and listening for divine messages. Truly, it is never standing still, content with what we have already learned.
Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). Reading the truths of the Bible, uttered not only by Jesus but also by the prophets and his apostles, demands that we live the spirit of those messages. Doctrines derived from those teachings may serve good purposes, but it is the seeker's own intuitive learning of spiritual facts that makes him or her free - free to progress in spiritual understanding and living.
Today as we look at our world, we see a great need for more God-like living. But there is evidence of progress. Occasionally this is documented in news reports. More people are aware of human rights violations, and there are more international means for dealing with them. Steps, though slow ones, are being taken to stop genocide in Darfur and cruelty in other parts of the world. More than ever before, nations are choosing more humane forms of government. Accurate news of current events is reaching more people so that their prayers and actions can be better informed.
Though civilization is not nearly as "civilized" as we desire, there is evidence that the world is moving forward. Individuals seeking God's government in their daily lives will continue to propel this movement. In a way, we can say that spiritual mindedness brings progress - and even that mistakes become steppingstones to a better life. We can fulfill with certainty God's demand for progress.
This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13, 14