A Christian Science perspective: What if our title as child of God were the most prominent in how we identified ourselves and others? What if it were the most precious name and cause we had to defend?

While I was teaching Sunday School, one of my young students proudly said, “I can spell my mom’s name.” She proceeded to write, “M-O-M!” Without hesitation, she continued, “And I can spell my dad’s name: D-A-D!”

This innocent mix-up set me thinking about names and identity in spiritual terms.

There are many shared titles – mom, dad, sister, brother, daughter, son, grandma, grandpa, and more. Those titles aren’t listed on our legal IDs, but we know them as a part of our identity. It’s often these shared experiences as a mom, dad, sister, brother, and so on, that unite us.

In spiritual terms, each one of us is a child of God. As children of God we have a common, divine Parent who is the source and provider of unity and compassion among our brothers and sisters.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, explains identity in this way: “Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 477).

This “living Principle” is dynamic and inclusive, never dull or limited. And what God knows about each one of us is also dynamic and inclusive of our spiritual potential, never dull or limited.

When I was young my father died. A few years later, our family of three grew. My mom remarried, and my new dad adopted my sister and me. This united our family. Then, when my youngest sister was born, she was simply my sister, an immediate part of the family.

Understanding family in terms of qualities and spiritual identity, not merely blood relations, has helped me throughout my life to find a sense of home wherever I am and to act with compassion.

As problems come up in the news or conflict arises in our personal lives, it’s easy to say that they’re just products of political, ideological, cultural – you name it – differences! But what if our title as child of God were the most prominent in how we identified ourselves and others? What if it were the most precious name and cause we had to defend?

When I’m faced with conflict, I often pray with these words from a loved hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal”:

Let all that now divides us
Remove and pass away,
Like shadows of the morning
Before the blaze of day.
Let all that now unites us
More sweet and lasting prove,
A closer bond of union,
In a blest land of love.
(Jane Borthwick, No. 196)

We are each part of the same divine family. This spiritual identity outweighs whatever opinions, fear, or impasse tries to hold us back. We can make decisions and think thoughts big enough to include everyone in this family.

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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.