Who ‘has your back’?

A Christian Science perspective: We all have an advocate we can truly rely on.

If you’ve ever felt targeted or misrepresented, you know what it’s like to long for an ally. Someone who “gets” you, who will stand up for you.

Sometimes friends or family fill this role, sometimes not. Even the most loyal of them isn’t always available or the best choice. But even at its best, the human take on things depends on fluctuating viewpoints, moods, and circumstances. Not a recipe for always-dependable reliability.

One time I faced a whole battery of strong negative opinions. I was applying for a position that had never been filled by someone with my background, and only one woman had been accepted for the role in the past. I was tempted to drop the whole application process – until prayer brought an advocate for my abilities to light.

My advocate wasn’t a person, though. It was an awakened sense of what was going on spiritually. It came to me as a phrase: “endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God.” I found these words in the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy. Here is the entire sentence: “Though entitled to the homage of the world and endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God, his brief triumphal entry into Jerusalem was followed by the desertion of all save a few friends, who sadly followed him to the foot of the cross” (p. 42). The author is describing Christ Jesus, who decisively overcame misunderstanding and outright hostility throughout his ministry, including his crucifixion and resurrection.

I loved the idea of being “endorsed” by God. But could I really claim the same approval as Jesus did? New Testament writer John identifies Jesus Christ as our advocate: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). While Jesus lived centuries ago, the Christ, the divine power and presence Jesus represented and demonstrated, is a spiritual force every one of us can feel and express, now and always. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him” (Science and Health, p. 26). Christ shows us our own Godlike nature as God’s spiritual image and likeness, the only real identity we have (see Genesis 1:26, 27).

Knowing I had “an advocate with the Father” – not for a particular position, but for the inherent value we all have as His image – settled things for me. Every bit of support I needed came from God, the source of my purpose and identity. Right within my own consciousness and experience, Christ was upholding what was true about me – not a mortal being who needed help, but a fully valued and cared-for child of God.

I took “endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God” as a mental theme, as a way of reminding myself of my indelible spiritual nature. I stopped trying to guess what my interviewers wanted to hear, and pondered instead how my Christly qualities – intelligence, humility, integrity, grace – were making themselves known.

As weeks of interviews continued, those I met with warmed toward me. Most were surprised I was doing so well. To me, the meetings felt like conversations between friends. And although an even more desirable opportunity impelled me to go in a different direction, I never forgot the feeling of Christ “having my back.”

Since that time, I’ve learned that Christ’s advocacy is much more than a comforting feeling of being approved of. It’s a sense of being truly loved – by God. Science and Health states, “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332). When a message is divine, it is true and dependable and final. The Christ message communicates only what is Godlike, what is good, to us. It lifts our hearts to embrace God’s presence. This view of divine reality enables us to disarm fault-finding, belittling, defensiveness, or indignation – whether we’ve seen them as someone else’s or our own – and brings to light the spiritual qualities we’re given to express.

Ultimately, it’s God’s love, the divine love Jesus expressed so completely, that touches hearts and breaks down barriers. As God’s cherished creation, we all have the ability to feel this love, and to experience the sweet confidence of having an ally we can truly count on, even in difficult situations.

This article was adapted from an article in the Oct. 19, 2015, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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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.”

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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.

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