Serving humanity by knowing God

A Christian Science perspective: An understanding of God does a service to mankind.

Over recent months I have been pondering how I can better serve humanity. I began by looking at the best role model I could think of: Christ Jesus. As I thought about Jesus’ career, I realized that all he had accomplished for the benefit of humanity grew from his knowledge of God and his relationship to Him.

The Christliness of Jesus gave him unparalleled understanding of the nature of God. His inseparability from Christ, or the divine idea, enabled him to lift multitudes out of sin and sickness, and to experience the resurrection and ascension. In his ministry, Jesus defined God as Spirit, as a loving Father who saves and heals, who condemns evil but saves men and women. And he taught the importance of our knowing God and the Christ, Truth, he lived and demonstrated. Speaking to God, he said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, devoted her life to healing and teaching after the manner of Jesus and his disciples. Her discovery of Christian Science came to her through the inspired word of the Bible, particularly the life and teachings of Christ Jesus – and was demonstrated in her healing works. With the Bible as her guide, she learned to define God as divine Love, Principle, Mind, Spirit, Truth, Soul, and Life. The Bible also defines God as a refuge, as omnipotence, as perfect, ever present, just, right, everlastingly kind, and merciful, as Love and light. And Mrs. Eddy wrote, “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 1). This statement reveals that, when gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of God, we are actually praying in a way that brings healing and reformation. What a wonderful way to love and support humanity!

The Bible is filled with stories of people who served others by knowing “the God of Abraham” (see, for example, Genesis 26:24). Moses’ deep sense of his oneness with God empowered him to lead the children of Israel out of slavery (see Exodus). When Gideon became convinced of God’s supremacy and steadfast love, he successfully led an offensive for freedom (see Judges). Daniel also drove a change in misguided government policy by surviving the lions’ den through prayer to God. He declared his understanding in this Bible passage: “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:” (Daniel 2:20, 21).

As I come to know God better, I understand myself and others better, as well, because God created all of us in Her likeness, in the likeness of Spirit, Life, and Love. Therefore, the most loving and effective prayer for others is to be a witness to this man and woman of God’s creating. And the way to begin to do that is to open our hearts and minds to gaining some understanding of what God is.

For example, I was recently on a plane praying about airline safety. The pilots were seconds from touching down on the runway but there was heavy fog and visibility was poor. My prayer began with quietly contemplating the nature of God as ever-present, omnipotent Life. Then Psalm 107 came to my thought; it includes a recitation of wonderful works God has done for humanity, including verses about Him bringing sailing ships “unto their desired haven.” I knew this applied to “air ships,” too. As I prayed to also understand God as divine Mind, and that man was the outcome of divine intelligence, I knew that divine wisdom was being expressed right in that moment by the pilots of my plane. As I affirmed this spiritual truth of God’s government of man, the pilots aborted the landing and were directed to another airport, where we landed safely. I gratefully acknowledged that my prayers contributed to bringing safety to everyone on that plane.

No matter what human situation confronts us, I have found that holding in thought what God is, knows, and does is scientific prayer that heals. A renewed effort to know God better infuses a freshness in our prayers for the world. And it stands to reason that, when our prayers are offered to bless humanity, they bless each of us individually, as well.

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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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