Our innate dignity

A Christian Science perspective: Strength and respect for refugees.

This week’s cover story follows refugees traveling from Syria to Europe. With millions of people around the world displaced by fighting and persecution and many nations struggling to take them in, I’m impelled to pray about a sense of home and worth for all. When outward signs of dignity have been stripped away, individuals especially need to be appreciated and valued.

My prayers led me to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and the Monitor. Early in her career she was forced to move almost monthly and she faced attacks on her dignity throughout her life. She writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God” (p. 254).

This passage helps us gain a sense of man’s dignity that goes beyond circumstance, because it gets to the very heart of who we truly are: Spiritually, we are guests of God, made by Him, and forever at home in His kingdom. In fact, because this home is heavenly, spiritual, it is ours wherever we are – established in consciousness, not in physical structure or location. As Christ Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

With these assurances of our spiritual selfhood and place comes a dignity that is inherent in everyone: that of being God’s beloved, cared for, wholly embraced spiritual children. No matter what may seem to be taken from us or lost, this dignity never can be, because our relationship to God and cherished place in His kingdom is an element of our actual spiritual identity.

A few years ago, I saw a touching example of how a spiritual sense of home and self enables us to express and appreciate the dignity of all. On my way to work, I would regularly see a particular man who was evidently homeless but unfailingly greeted all the passersby joyfully. One morning, I felt inspired to let him know how much I appreciated his cheerful greetings.

He told me that while he had nowhere to go and no one to turn to, he felt a kinship with everyone who walked by because no matter where any of us had come from, we were all made by God. He said we were all welcome in what he called his mental home. The love and strength from this idea was so powerful that it replaced his discouragement with inspiration and courage when he felt hopeless or alone.

As this man experienced, when we mentally rest in a spiritual sense of who we are and where we dwell, our thought is inevitably lifted toward God, divine Love. It is here that we find our and everyone’s dignity, which is as eternal as God Himself.

We can support one another near and far in our prayers by uplifting our own thought to an understanding of God, knowing that His whole creation has a holy, inherent dignity, as part of His kingdom. Like that man, we can appreciate the precious worth of every individual, which emanates from divine Love.

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