Good detective work

A Christian Science perspective.

In many ways, we're becoming a society of detectives. Television is a great barometer. Could it be that half of all the main characters on American TV today are on a search for answers in a hospital room or at a crime scene?

In a more serious way, we have "truth commissions" set up by governmental bodies to look into war crimes or the activities of past governments. And that's in addition to all the daily efforts to enforce the laws of the land – locally, nationally, and internationally. Then with something like the swine flu, investigators around the globe track viruses and those who are infected. From TV to reality, there are plenty of hero-detectives working on behalf of others. But it's worth taking a little time to consider what they and we all should ultimately find.

Several years ago, I was audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The initial pass through my records suggested that I'd been careless or perhaps dishonest in my record keeping. And it looked as if I owed the government some money. My first response was a rather frantic search for whatever could turn the verdict my way. But this didn't prove very successful. As a result of those efforts, I might have lessened the financial penalty a bit, but there still would have been an air of guilt along with a tax record that was less than clean.

I remember praying about this situation. I really wanted help, answers. And as a result of my prayers, I found myself making a shift in the basis of my detective work. Instead of focusing on correcting what I might have done wrong, I was inspired by a better glimpse of what was right.

God was the cause of all life. And He was causing good. I wanted any effort I was making to result in a clearer awareness of the essence of life as good. And eventually I saw that what I'd always wanted (even before the audit came about) was something good. I wanted good for my family, as well as a situation that was good for my country and government. And because this desire was at the bottom of my heart, this is what I had to see sooner or later. In this case, the insight from my prayers brought with it the answers I needed for clearing up the tax questions and left me with a clean record.

What my detective work also uncovered was a deeper meaning of a "clean record." It's more than an unqualified personal, criminal, or medical history. The original and ultimate state of each of us as God's creation is good, clean. The identity that God has given all of us is perfect. And whatever describes a different state or settles for an imperfect conclusion is based on a limited view of things.

Jesus urged us to seek the full story. He exemplified the perfect model, and charged the rest of us to do the same. He said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This is not a human hope or desire. This is a Science, the law that must come clear with regard to creation, based on the perfect nature of the perfect Creator. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "The great truth in the Science of being, that the real man was, is, and ever shall be perfect, is incontrovertible; for if man is the image, reflection, of God, he is neither inverted nor subverted, but upright and Godlike" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 200).

Human experience prompts us to investigate the flaws or shortcomings in our health and behavior. But sooner or later, we're left longing and looking for something that resonates with us better than the imperfect, limited, surface view of things. We want and need answers that satisfy more deeply than a material concept of life can. A nonspiritual definition of life and identity proves mistaken. Beneath carelessness or deceit, beneath strife and sickness, is a desire for and an essence of true goodness. And it's in spiritual detective work that this goodness, established by God, is the final verdict, the one that will always stand and ultimately must be the only way to characterize life.

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