Loving commands and their practical benefit
A Christian Science perspective: The good that following God’s commandments brings.
As I was driving along recently, a car suddenly appeared that was darting from one lane to another, trying to get ahead of everyone, only to end up stopping at the same red light that brought the other cars to a halt. There really was no shortcut; by swerving in and out he hadn’t moved farther ahead.
I was reminded of a helpful spiritual point. Just as all drivers are subject to the same traffic laws, each individual is truly governed by and subject to the same wise, beneficent law of God, and there can be no progress by disregarding it. No one would want to ignore divine law, because God, the Lawgiver, is Love, as the Bible’s New Testament says so simply (see I John 4:16).
The Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20:3-17) present the law of God in a way that can be applied in daily experience for our well-being and ultimate salvation. These commands are not, then, rules that restrict human freedom and happiness. Rather, they enhance them as we strive to put the commands into practice. They confer genuine, lasting liberty. They serve as a protection, just as the traffic light serves an important purpose in support of order and safety.
All of the commandments are essential and have helped me over the years, but the first, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is the one I most frequently consider. It has served as both a comforting guide and a wake-up call and has made my life better.
Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, brings to light the unchanging, eternal, spiritual reality of existence – the absolute truth of being – which underlies the commandments. The Bible clearly points to this reality in its teaching that God is the one all-powerful creator; that He is Spirit, as Christ Jesus taught (see John 4:24); that He made man in His likeness; and that what He created is good and only good (see Genesis 1:26, 31). To bring thought and action into greater accord with the commandments leads to a more consistent demonstration of spiritual truth. The result might include a more harmonious working out of the details of day-to-day life, a clearer sense of God’s direction in a particular situation, better relationships, instances of protection, and an improvement of health. Mrs. Eddy writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science” (p. 340). And referring specifically to several of the Ten Commandments, she says in another of her works, “Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 67).
You might say that Jesus, through his unwavering faithfulness to and reliance on the one God, was the ultimate demonstrator of spiritual reality – of the perfection of God and of man as God’s spiritual likeness – as seen in his healing works. His teachings clearly indicate that there’s no shortcut in the day-by-day work of proving our true status as children of God. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,” he said, “which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14).
Each one’s path in life is individual; each one’s experience is distinct. Yet, in a sense, you could say that the path is eventually the same for all. That’s because obedience to divine law as expressed in the commandments and in a growing love for Spirit – the one God – is a natural outcome of who we really are; it’s inherent in our true nature as God’s expression.
Divine Love is our guide and support along the way. The one infinitely loving God, the Principle of the universe, expresses Himself in love for His creation, not in harshness. I’ve felt the effect of this loving government over the years in a number of ways, from progress in overcoming certain faults, to a yielding to God’s goodwill in work and career matters, to a more deeply rooted sense of well-being. And this loving Principle has even helped me see the importance of keeping my sense of humor in challenging times.
Eventually everyone has to take into account the loving guidance embodied in the Ten Commandments – stop at that red light, so to speak – in order to move safely and happily forward. That’s good news.