A Christian Science perspective: What does it mean that God is a ‘living God’?

Ever since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed the much-loved Bible story of Daniel and the lions’ den (see Daniel 6). There’s something quite engrossing about the tale of a man who is thrown into a den of lions but loves and trusts God so much that he is not afraid – and who is, indeed, protected from harm.

One day, as my Christian Science Sunday School class was reading this story together, a little phrase I hadn’t paid much attention to before caught my eye. Twice in this account, God is referred to as the “living God.”

It turns out, as I’ve discovered in the years since, that this phrase appears many times throughout the Old and New Testaments. It certainly helps distinguish God from the idols that many biblical peoples worshiped. But my study of Christian Science, which reveals God to be infinite, unceasing Life itself, has brought to light a deeper sense of what it means for God to be a “living God.”

Over and over the Bible tells us that God is good, and John conveys that He is Love (see I John 4:16). We also learn that this loving, good God has created us (see Psalms 100:3). This is our true, spiritual identity. Mary Baker Eddy writes of Christian Science, which she discovered, “It brings to light the only living and true God and man as made in His likeness; …” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 338). As God’s spiritual likeness, we reflect all that God is. His goodness is being expressed in us, His loved children, without interruption and without fail.

When Christ Jesus asked one of his disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” the disciple responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). The Christ, which Jesus expressed in all that he was and did, is the manifestation of the living God. The Christ is eternally active, revealing God’s allness and goodness to every heart that’s open to His message of love for His creation.

Christ Jesus’ multitude of healing works proved God’s healing, saving power to be present at all times, even on what had been traditionally considered a day of rest (see Luke 13:11-17) and in dire situations (see Luke 4:28-30). God, Love, never pauses, and the healing Christ is for all mankind. This means that no matter where we are, we can turn to God for help, healing, and guidance – as Daniel illustrated when he emerged unscathed from the lions’ den. I’ve seen this in my own experience, including during severe weather (see “Forever safe in God,” Christian Science Sentinel, April 20, 2015) and when faced with illness or injury (see “Diligent prayer brings quick healing,” Sentinel, Dec. 29, 2014).

To know God as a truly “living God” goes beyond simply acknowledging that He exists. He is unceasing, unending Life itself. His goodness can’t fade. Our receptivity to His infinite goodness, inherent in our very nature as the reflection of the living God, can’t be diminished. When we wholeheartedly yearn to know God better, to receive the forever-active Christ, to understand that God could never for a second stop expressing His love and goodness in each of us – then we begin to see this spiritual fact increasingly evidenced in our everyday lives.

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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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