Greatness begins and ends with God

A Christian Science perspective.

"Competition in commerce, deceit in councils, dishonor in nations, dishonesty in trusts, begin with 'Who shall be greatest?' " wrote Mary Baker Eddy in her "Message to The Mother Church for 1902" (p. 4). Today's world scene, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, reaffirms the timeless truth of these words.

Fear in Pakistan that the United States' involvement is part of a larger takeover in the region, rampant dishonesty in the Afghan elections, and a tug of war between the US military and the president over the next steps in Afghanistan are a few examples of issues where the struggle to provide the best solution or be on top has deep political and security implications. The continuing unrest over Iran's leadership – again, an example of a possibly tainted election – is another.

Each of these situations reveals a state of fear and unrest that needs to be countered at the deepest level. In the United States at present, many have doubts about the wisdom of continuing with the Afghan war; others fear that to wind down the war would make the country vulnerable to renewed terrorism. Such fears can tempt people to mislead others or to mistakenly interpret conditions so their idea will prevail. It would keep the discussion of these issues within a material realm where dishonesty and even honest misinterpretation can warp outcomes.

A spiritual solution to such conditions is to recognize that reliance on human intelligence for material solutions is not where answers actually lie. God, the one Mind, is able to guide humanity through these dangers and to open up passages to peace that may have been overlooked. Listening to Mind, and hearing it clearly, isn't always easy if one's thought is being pulled this way and that by opposing views or personal opinions.

To pray for the world sometimes requires simple childlikeness. You may recall that when Jesus was asked by his disciples to measure greatness, he didn't place top value on people skills, education, contacts, or even years of experience. Rather, he called a child to him and said, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (see Matt. 18:1–3). To be childlike is to be hopeful, loving, persistent, intelligent, honest, and obedient. This is the path Christ Jesus walked. It was anything but an easy road. But to enter the kingdom of true greatness is to obediently follow the Master's example.

Christ's path is forever separate from the road to worldly power and glory. Yet Jesus' willingness to walk that road made this carpenter one of the most famous people of all time. His fame comes not from personal glory but from his recognition that, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). He understood that the Christ, the divine power from God to man, gave him strength and intelligence, courage and spirituality, far surpassing all others. He literally changed the world through his undeviating reliance on God's guidance.

By choosing this path, each individual can help the world dig itself out of natural disasters and to find answers to political and economic dangers. On this path, one learns that there is only one Greatest, namely God – the one Mind, which protects and saves, and offers security that drives out fear. Then, there isn't a need to destroy one's foes through ruthless competition, or to practice deceit, dishonor, or dishonesty. Rather, there is a natural outlet for excellence, brother- and sisterhood, love, joy, honesty, honor, and goodness.

On this path each individual sees his or her own greatness in relation to its source in the divine Mind. It becomes possible to echo Jesus' words, "I can of mine own self do nothing," and to realize that they represent an increase, not a decrease, in authority and joy. It is to be secure in the knowledge that good can never be lost because its source is in the all-encompassing power and presence of Mind.

This promise is for each individual, anywhere in the world, but it's also a gift each one can give to the world. In specific prayer that recognizes the genuine nature of man as the offspring of the Greatest, rather than coming from a finite source of greatness, one can claim peace and freedom from fear for the leaders of one's country and for all who are in positions of authority. Each nation can be respected for its own unique and special gifts. Past hurts can be forgiven, and angers be forgotten when prayer requires that the one Mind, rather than human egos, be seen in control.

Such prayer will redeem political systems, financial institutions, and all who have been led into believing that material reliances can truly be reliable bridges to success. In this way, each of us contributes not only to our individual happiness, but to the progress of all people, everywhere.

From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.

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