A Christian Science perspective.

In a scene from a movie that I remember from when I was a kid, a teenager is talking to his dad and bemoaning life in high school. The dad responds simply by lamenting that the son is currently in a chapter of his life that’s rather void of any meaning. 

It’s certainly not a very helpful response. Yet I can understand the feeling. I’ve had moments of such feelings during every chapter of my life. But there’s another feeling, one that comes from God, that fills that void and moves our lives in a way that includes purpose, dominion, and joy, along with encouragement for those around us.

It’s God’s Christ, or the Christ-truth about life, that delivers this inspiring feeling. St. Paul felt moved enough to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Paul wasn’t thinking about winning strongman contests or setting world records, but he had in his sights the fullest purpose, dominion, and joy.

So often it seems that what maintains our purpose and joy is not something evident on the surface at the moment. Rather, it’s founded upon a hope and faith, even a trust, in the great good that God brings out in our lives. Indeed, we are all created for the purpose of the fullest expression of the divine Being. This is our essential identity. It’s our destiny. And any moment can be maximized through the effort to use that moment to bring out more of divine Life and its qualities.

How we do this is not always so simple. It requires a shift, or spiritualization, of our focus and desires. An idle or vacuous moment in high school may require of us the courage to embrace and model for others a better purpose. The same requirement may fall on the rest of us who are not in high school. Often, I find myself in conversations or situations that require me to find a way – to listen to God for a way – to keep things moving forward, helping myself and those around me fulfill His ideal for us.

Hope in God and the realization of His presence and nature bring about better circumstances, but the circumstances aren’t the basis of our hope for progress. Rather, our hope needs to be based on something from within us – that spiritual something that inspires and directs us. I think of it as the Christ, identified by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, as “the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 332). It’s my awareness of my connection to God, with His Christ-message, that enables me to find my identity and the progress that comes with it.

A God-based or spiritual sense of our lives – of seeing oneself as someone who is more than a high-schooler, a grade-schooler, a retiree, or anything in between – is what’s needed.

Our purpose and identity are essentially related to the spiritual nature or qualities of God that we are to express. Here we find our hope and joy and the means to carry out any good purpose.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.