"What's it to you?"

A Christian Science perspective.

Jesus would never have said it quite like that. But I like the informality, the jovial jostling of the phrase. It’s my modernized version of the Master’s exchange with Peter about “the disciple whom Jesus loved”: “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:20–22).

In colloquial terms, Peter was asking Jesus, What about this guy?

How often do we fall for that question, comparing ourselves with others? Wondering why someone else is having an easier time with life than we are. Or, if we’re feeling slightly more charitable, and possibly somewhat superior, why are they having a more difficult time than we are? The answer is always the same – never mind that. Follow the Christ.

And what is the Christ? Not a person, not an impossible ideal. Simply, “The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error” (Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 583).

How do we follow that? And what does it mean to follow? Well, if you follow a path, you stay on it; you don’t veer off and wander away. You remain. Following the Christ is like that. It takes both alertness and obedience, a putting aside of “I wants” to follow – or accept as authority – the reality of God’s allness. Following the “me” Jesus was referring to is following that manifestation of God that Mrs. Eddy defined as Christ.

Sometimes it feels as though we have to follow single file. Following the Christ isn’t exactly a group activity, because it takes place in our hearts. But that doesn’t mean we are lonely or isolated, off by ourselves in the wilderness of life. In her poem “Christ and Christmas,” Eddy says, “Christ comes in gloom.” Right there in the darkness, there is the Christ. Our Savior. Our answer. Gloom dissolves in the mighty tenderness of God, divine Love, whose message is always “I am with thee” (Isaiah 41:10).

Once, a dear friend of mine made a decision that, to put it mildly, surprised me; or, to put it bluntly, stunned me. For days I found myself wondering and worrying, trying to second-guess what seemed to me like a completely inexplicable move. I thought about trying to talk her out of it, or at the very least asking for an explanation. But each time I reached for the phone I got a gentle but firm mental no.

We all know that message, don’t we? I don’t always listen to it, but this time I did. However, even though I was obedient to this spiritual directive, I still felt unsatisfied. So I asked God: “What am I supposed to do about my friend? I don’t understand what she’s doing.” And the answer came quickly: “What’s that to you? It’s between her and Me.”

It would be a disservice, to say the least, and an inaccurate assessment of the Master’s life, if you wondered, for example, why didn’t he leave the garden of Gethsemane before the soldiers came? How come he got crucified? Why did the disciples fall asleep? Why did Peter deny Jesus? Not once, but three times!

All those questions miss the real point of Jesus’ life. They have only one answer really, which the Apostle Paul provided: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). All things means just that – all things.

Certainly we should care about our brother man (and sister, too). But that kind of care means love and compassion, not a measuring of how we think someone else is doing with his or her life.

It’s not our concern. Our only business is to love. And how do we do that? By following the Christ. Human love can be a slippery slope. It means well, but often ends badly. Divine Love is solid and dependable, but also gentle and flexible. That’s the Love that loves us unconditionally. The Christ-love we follow.

A few weeks later I met with my friend and let her know that I respected her and her decision. Then I said I didn’t want to gossip about her with her; in other words, I didn’t want to ask her why, or what, or how come. But I supported her. No condemnation, no need for explanation, just love. She said, “You have no idea how much that means to me!” And I smiled, but I thought, “Oh, yes, I do.” Because that’s what the golden rule is all about – treating others the way you’d like them to treat you (see Luke 6:31).

From the Christian Science Sentinel.

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