Never losing dignity
A Christian Science perspective: How can we hold on to or restore our dignity?
The Greek prime minister vows to restore dignity to the Greek people. On the face of it, this certainly seems like a reasonable statement. The worth of each individual certainly needs to be recognized. Everyone deserves to feel a sense of dignity and to be treated with respect. No one would want his or her life viewed in any other way. But the cry for dignity is not limited to Greece; it is a demand heard around the world by many individuals and nations. And it is well deserving of the world’s attention.
The recognition of people’s dignity helps establish respect within neighborhoods. It means seeing the value of each family member, each community member, and enables us to appreciate the diversity of nations. Dignity is not something that can be given or taken away. It is the intrinsic value we each have from our Father in heaven, who values and needs His loved children. This makes dignity a divine imperative and something that could never be destroyed. Understanding dignity to be a divine valuation lifts humanity out of indignity. No one showed this more than Christ Jesus. As the Son of God he proved, with divine authority, that recognizing our value and worth brings healing.
One clear example of this is when a crippled woman was in Jesus’ presence. He called her to him. In spite of the indignity she may have felt from the public, she made her way over to him. Jesus said to her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (Luke 13:12, 13). He restored not only her well-being and wholeness, but also her sense of dignity – and proved to all that everyone has value. When asked whether it was lawful to demonstrate the healing power of God on the Sabbath, he said, “ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:16, 17). He rebuked anything that would argue against the value of man by recognizing man as God’s loved and valued child. Jesus taught that everyone can waken spiritually to know themselves as God knows them, and to feel the blessing of God’s healing love.
Dismissing others as unworthy of respect because of their social, economic, gender, or educational status or their physical condition is not the way of Christ. But through the spirit of Christ we are able to see beyond these human evaluations into the innate spiritual worth of all. This spiritual worth is what Christian Science comes to illuminate. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, rejected any other valuation of man and asked this thought-provoking question: “Shall the opinions, systems, doctrines, and dogmas of men gauge the animus of man? or shall his stature in Christ, Truth, declare him?” (“Christian Science vs. Pantheism,” p. 11).
This question has made me take special care in how I value everyone that crosses my path. As Jesus’ example shows us, the inherent dignity of our stature in Christ must be understood and lived. In this way we can all come to “the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” as it is written in Ephesians (4:13). By this, the cry for dignity can begin to be truly answered – for individuals and for nations.