Prosperity as a spiritual quality

A Christian Science perspective: Our global economy grows richer in understanding God’s infinitely abundant goodness.

Following the state government and congressional elections across the United States in November, The Christian Science Monitor reported that voters have sent a clear message to elected officials: They are not happy with the economy, individually or collectively (see “Midterm elections exit poll: It was the economy, stupid”).

The average net worth of the bottom 90 percent of American households hasn’t changed in nearly three decades, something one economist describes as “very extreme and very surprising” (see “Economic inequality in the US reaches levels not seen since Great Depression”). And while people are hungering for, and deserve, a solution to this imbalance, there is an even deeper need to strengthen and rejuvenate the whole mental atmosphere underlying both personal and global economies.

For me, the path to lasting economic answers starts with a stronger trust in God as the underlying means for providing financial security and a way forward for individuals and families. I find a sound basis for that trust in the teachings of Christian Science, which emphasize the unbroken oneness each of us has with God, our creator, who is eternal good. The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, described it this way in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history” (pp. 470-471).

An example from Bible history shows how the recognition of our completeness in God’s love proves that balance and prosperity are in fact spiritual, not fiscal, qualities. When God sent Elijah to the city of Zarephath, He told the prophet that a widow living there would be his host (see I Kings 17:8-13). But rather than being greeted by a woman of means in a comfortable home, Elijah met a penniless widow gathering sticks. She told him all she had was a “handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse,” and that she was about to prepare a last meal for herself and her son before they died.

Talk about extreme poverty! This woman was so reduced by famine and circumstance that she’d literally come to the end of her endurance and had resigned herself and her son to death.

Yet Elijah turned this pitiful picture into an opportunity to prove that God is the source of supply – and that supply, in fact, is spiritual. Lifting the woman’s thought above the picture of poverty, he told her “Fear not” and asked her to bake him a small cake first, and then make something for herself and her son. Commanding the woman not to be afraid was more than just positive thinking – it contained a firm promise of spiritual conviction: “For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth” (I Kings 17:14).

The narrative goes on to show that not only was this promise fulfilled (Elijah, the woman, and her household ate for many days, until the needed rain broke the famine), but when the widow’s son became sick and died later, Elijah raised him up from death (see I Kings 17:17-24).

As a Christian Scientist, I’ve found that when I’ve turned wholeheartedly to God and sought to understand Him better, as Jesus tells us to do (see Matthew 6:33), the needs of my family have been met – not just the financial ones, but the needs of health and harmony, too. Christ Jesus’ healing ministry showed so fully that God’s care for us never goes into recession or becomes impoverished. Science and Health explains it this way: “Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love. With the affluence of Truth, he vanquished error” (p. 54).

This “affluence of Truth” isn’t something we have to acquire or accumulate; it’s inherently and infinitely ours as God’s loved offspring, the expression of His being. Because God is Truth, we as God’s children inherit all that belongs to Truth, all that belongs to the goodness of God. We inherit the intelligence to act wisely, and this brings right solutions to our economic situations and other issues. As we comprehend the rich spiritual inheritance we all have, we help ourselves and others progress, and the world grows richer in understanding more of God’s infinitely abundant goodness.

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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.”

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