A woman was writing up my order for furniture, and she began apologizing for coughing, explaining that she had severe allergies.
Her struggle brought to mind a healing I'd had many years earlier that came about as the result of prayer.
I was allergic to cats. One night when the symptoms became aggravated, I prayed to understand this verse from Genesis: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (Gen. 1:26).
I saw that God's design for man, including everyone, involves dominion over everything on the earth - including animals and flowers. I also claimed no life separate from God. I was able to recognize no other Creator or creation. I have had no ill effects from cats since that time.
I felt inspired to tell the saleswoman about my healing. She was quite interested in spiritual healing and quietly listened. There was no more coughing throughout the rest of the sale. She thanked me and said what I had told her was helpful.
Sharing my healing that day and reaching out with healing love to a stranger taught me something about what I think Jesus' church might have been like.
My mental image of his preaching that I have from reading the Gospels involves him surrounded by a large crowd, taking his place outside the city limits with absolute simplicity. He was out in the open. No music, meal preparations, handouts, or seating arrangements. Just his message, meant to clarify all of our duties to God and our brothers and sisters.
In what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
That statement has provided for me a glimpse of Jesus' view of church. I've thought a lot about what Jesus' concept of church might have been. I've wanted to understand his view of church as he lived and practiced it and to understand his mission better. It's not hard to recognize his church as one of action -- one of utility and promise. Jesus taught us how to live church, and I've tried to embrace that life and spirit.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote a lot about the mission of Jesus. Her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" illustrates how his teachings relate to our lives today. She wrote: "Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing. He taught his followers that his religion had a divine Principle, which would cast out error and heal both the sick and the sinning. He claimed no intelligence, action, nor life separate from God" (p. 136).
Jesus had a mission to deliver all of humanity from sickness and sin through the Word of God. Many individuals, including myself, are striving to commit to being a disciple of this great Exemplar. As we progress in this activity, we are bringing this life and spirit of Church to whatever church we are a part of.
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him .... thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.